Personal Branding Across Cultures: No such thing as a commodity. It’s all in your head!

Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney-Reyes
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

No such thing as a commodity. It’s all in your head!

The term commodity usually refers to “goods and other physical products that are supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.” In a free market, more than one source for a commodity item can exist. Sometimes there are so many to choose from that, when shopping for one, we become overwhelmed. So what is it about certain commodities that draw our interest? Why do we choose what we choose?

The role of branding. Brands play a major role in differentiating one certain commodity from the rest. The most successful companies are those that not only mildly stimulate but also create unique interest in their products or services. These companies are the ones that develop and embody an image, one that makes their product different. This difference is what makes their product successfully alluring to customers. The distinction makes it not only memorable but also noticeably different from a mass of similar products.

Crossing cultures to achieve differentiation. A commodity that has been particularly effective in establishing its image is Colombian coffee. What exactly is so special about 100% Colombian coffee besides the supposed fact that it is of high quality and superior to most other coffees? With the help of its donkey-riding, sombrero-wearing symbolic coffee farmer, Juan Valdez, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia successfully created a distinction between Colombian coffee and coffee from other countries. Juan Valdez’s physical characteristics are a tribute to the culture of Colombian coffee farmers. Instead of trying to imitate its competitors, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia cleverly integrated its unique culture into its symbol, making it an internationally recognized icon. As a Colombian and coffee lover, it makes me proud that he represents my beloved country so well!

Your key to success. Instead of viewing your service or product as just another commodity in a sea of many in which price seems to be the only differentiator, create your brand’s special distinction and set yourself apart from the rest by incorporating the cultural traits that make you unique and distinctive. While you may offer services that parallel those of many others, what sets you apart is your brand—your image and your distinction.

Marcela Jenney-Reyes is a global marketing expert, business coach and consultant with over 20 years of experience. Her clients include language service providers, entrepreneurs and business professionals from culturally diverse backgrounds.


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One Response to “Personal Branding Across Cultures: No such thing as a commodity. It’s all in your head!”

  1. Hi Marcella,

    I would love to know your thoughts on trying to serve multiple demographics. As an actor and a film producer, I have a site that teaches about film industry branding, also know as entertainment branding. The challenge I have is in sharing branding strategy as both an actor and a producer. Sharing film package branding strategy to producers attracts producers, but the acting brand strategy attracts actors. The challenge in building my market is that these are two different audiences, but both feed into each other. This is particularly the case where I get calls from producers both asking me to be in their films and from those needing help with their branding strategy for film pitches. As a result I tend to split my time between discussing branding as an actor and how I package projects for branding as a producer. Would you have any suggestions on how I might split this up more effectively, if at all? My site is located at
    Thank you.