Personal Branding Across Cultures: Top 10 Cross-cultural Faux Pas’ in Personal Branding: When the Best Intentions Meet the Worst Interpretations

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

Top 10 Cross-cultural Faux Pas’ in Personal Branding: When the Best Intentions Meet the Worst Interpretations

To celebrate Reach’s 10th birthday and helping individuals around the world to effectively communicate their personal brand in a unique and compelling way, we are highlighting 10 cross-cultural communication blunders:

1. Clairol
English: “Mist Stick”
German: “Manure Stick!”

2. GM
English: “Chevy Nova”
Spanish: “Chevy Doesn’t Go!”

3. American Dairy Association
English: “Got Milk?”
Spanish: “Are You Lactating?”

4. Colgate
English: “Cue Toothpaste”
French: “Cue” is a pornographic magazine!

5. Coors Brewing Co.
English: “Turn it Loose”
Spanish: “Suffer from Diarrhea!”

6. Parker Pen
English: “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”
Spanish: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant!”

7. Starbucks
English: “Morning latte”
Germany: “Awakening with an erection!”

8. Braniff Airlines
English: “Fly in Leather”
Spanish: “Fly Naked!”

9. Pepsi
English: “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life”
Chinese: “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave!”

10. Schweppes
English: “Schweppes Tonic Water”
Italian: “Schweppes Toilet Water!”

Don’t let this happen to you! When communicating your personal brand, please try to remember that it is not about one size fits all, but rather about meeting and adapting to the ‘locales’ of your target audiences. So say what you mean, but take time to understand the meaning of what you say BEFORE attempting to connect with diverse cultures and ethnicities. You’ll be glad you did!

Marcela Jenney is an international entrepreneurial marketing expert, business coach and consultant with over 20 years of experience. She partners with language service providers as well as professionals from culturally diverse backgrounds.

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