Posts Tagged ‘Personal Branding Across Cultures’

Personal Branding Across Cultures: Searching Around the World: Culturally customizing your SEO efforts

Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney-Reyes
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

Searching Around the World: Culturally customizing your SEO efforts

Have you tried search engine optimization, or SEO, yet? This clever “trick” gives you more visibility by moving you to the top of search engine results. However, it takes a bit of work—and if you are an international business reaching out to a global market, it can be even harder. Although the process can be intricate and complicated, the key to SEO lies in using the right keywords. And when you market to more than one culture, this can get tricky.

“Napkin” or “serviette”? “Sneakers” or “trainers”? “Sandwich press” or “toastie maker”? Your word preference depends on your cultural background. These questions represent only a small number of the differences in identifiers that you will find in the English language for things that are the same. How many times have you listened to someone speak the same language as you, only to find yourself lost and confused because you could not understand his or her dialect? Remember that individual words are central to SEO. So, when using it to increase your visibility internationally, be careful to pay attention to and account for any differences in word preference that exist between cultures.

Cultural values and the search engine. A less obvious problem arises when using SEO to market your brand internationally. You probably already know that different cultures place value on different things in the professional world. For example, in the U.S., boasting about our abilities is an accepted form of advertising; however, this practice is frowned upon in many cultures. So, to make yourself look good using SEO in the global marketplace, you have to focus on other features in order to appeal to international clientele. Depending on their cultural background, prospective clients will oftentimes conduct a search for a product or service using keywords that highlight unique characteristics they value. Again, be careful to keep this in mind. Without special attention being paid to the subtle cultural differences in your international market, even the best attempts at SEO will only work to promote your business in your home country.

Marcela Jenney-Reyes, MBA 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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Humor across cultures: not a funny business!

Thursday, August 8th, 2013
Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney-Reyes
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

Humor across cultures: not a funny business!

There is no doubt about it: We love to laugh. We love telling jokes, watching silly movies, and being sarcastic. We view a sense of humor as a positive personality trait. In uncomfortable situations, we often look to lighten the mood with something funny. It is easily argued that most people around the world agree that humor is usually a good thing. However, what exactly people find funny can vary significantly across cultures. This is very important to keep in mind when doing business internationally.

Our varying sense of humor. How many times have you sat down to watch a comedy only to walk away feeling either offended, confused, or disgusted? Even within our own culture there is a wide array of comical approaches. Words like crude, dry, witty, sarcastic, and dark all describe some of the many different types of humor within our society. Outside of our culture, you will find even more. We have all told a joke that didn’t exactly resonate within someone, leaving both parties feeling awkward and embarrassed. The likelihood of this happening is high when conversing with someone who is of a different cultural background than you. Even if your delivery is stellar, and you are clear to enunciate every word of your funny story, your listener might not find it amusing simply because of his or her cultural background.

Humor in the workplace. Is it appropriate? You are meeting with a client, and things seem to be going great. To make things flow even more smoothly, you decide to tell a joke. However, instead of laughing and smiling, you find your client glancing back at you disapprovingly. What went wrong? Even though you may have told a joke that could be seen as universally funny, some cultures frown upon the informality created by humor. To be respectful of a culture’s business practices, you need to be aware of whether or not they view the inclusion of humor as appropriate during professional transactions.

It’s hard to be funny. Oftentimes, your jokes simply won’t translate because they include a pun or an idiom unique to your country. Being culturally sensitive includes taking care to monitor your humor, and in more than just one way. Nevertheless, if your jest does end up being misunderstood, be open about your mistake and try to laugh it off. Sometimes your embarrassment, rather than your joke, can help to ease some tension between you and your international client. We are humans, after all.

Marcela Jenney-Reyes, MBA 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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Blending in with Body Language

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney-Reyes
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

Blending in with Body Language

Many of us know that in some Asian countries a forward bow is the accepted form of greeting, rather than the Western handshake practiced in American and European countries. International business texts remind us to be wary of the differences in body language and gestures between countries, as an innocent symbol for “great” in one place could be taken as offensive somewhere else.

Body language varies around the globe and between cultures, and familiarizing yourself with what is normal in a country that you are visiting, or a group of people for whom you are giving a presentation, will be tremendously helpful, if not absolutely essential for success.

Blend and stand out. Notice how Shakira, a brunette at birth, died her hair blonde when she made the cultural crossover from Colombia to the U.S. This physical change was significant in helping her better blend into American culture. If you are in a foreign country, learn and practice the typical body language and gestures of the locals. This will not only help you better communicate with them, but will also help you become immersed into the local community. Instead of being looked at and treated as an ignorant foreigner, you will get points for embracing the norms, and thus people will be more sympathetic, respectful, and open to listening to what you have to say.

Don’t alienate yourself by feeling like a foreigner. For the last ten years, the Irishman Benny Lewis has been traveling the world and learning its languages. Lewis, fluent in 10, stresses the importance of learning the local body language and gestures of the countries he visits. One of the first things he does when traveling to a new country is learn these gestures, and with this knowledge he is able to blend into the local community—though he may not even know the language! The people he meets tell Lewis that they feel he is a native of the country he is visiting, and he finds no difficulty in befriending them. The key to body language is subtle “social cues.” Communication far exceeds what is possible verbally, so being able to interact on a level that is deeper than that is important.

International personal branding means reaching out to cultures that are different from your own and adapting to your audience while maintaining your authenticity.

Marcela Jenney-Reyes, MBA 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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: David Beckham’s Personal Brand Legacy: What we can learn from it?

Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney-Reyes
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

David Beckham’s Personal Brand Legacy: What we can learn from it?

David Beckham
is not only a fantastic soccer player but also an internationally recognized “household” brand by even those who know nothing of the sport. While there are many amazing soccer players who are also notoriously good-looking, what was different about Beckham that made him stand out? Not to mention, how has he managed to remain so famous for so long, even after his move from Europe to the United States? David Beckham’s characteristic brand was not created overnight and was also not accidental. So how did he do it?

An interesting segment of Beckham’s career was his decision to sign with the LA Galaxy, taking him from Europe to the United States. This move was a big culture shock for both him and his fans, and required him to make adjustments and adaptations to his brand. The culture difference between Europe and the United States is bigger than many would expect, and for Beckham this meant redefining his image.

How Beckham used his brand to make soccer a more popular sport in America

Interestingly enough, Beckham did not choose to move to Los Angeles as a last resort. He carefully chose this location because here, soccer was not the number one sport. He envisioned “taking soccer to another level” in the United States and made doing so his goal. However, after living and working in the U.S. for some time, he found that he would have to adapt to the local ways of life to promote soccer in this country. The reason behind this lay deeply rooted in American culture, where celebrities enjoy a significant amount of public attention, so much so that his success as a first-class player was not enough.

Beckham was ultimately able to make soccer more popular in the U.S. by using his celebrity status to draw attention to the sport. In America, Beckham is famous for being fabulously good-looking, British, a great soccer player, and for having a big personality. His fame as an individual, rather than his soccer skills, gave the sport the recognition he wanted.

What can we learn from this?
It is important to recognize the differences in values across the world. This can not be stressed enough, as cultural differences can change the way you and your brand are perceived. Become aware of the norms and values of your market, and then bring attention to your brand attributes that are in alignment with them. This strategy worked for David Beckham and his dreams for soccer in America, and it can also work for you.

Marcela Jenney-Reyes, MBA 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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Cross-cultural Public Speaking

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

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

Cross-cultural Public Speaking

Mastering the art of public speaking can be a difficult task for many. How is it that some people seem to capture and hold an audience so well, sometimes for even the most boring of subjects? While imagining that your listeners are all naked might work for you, there are much better tricks to remember when you want to give a captivating presentation. Keeping these tips in the forefront of your mind will help your speech every time, especially in the special situation where your audience is one of many backgrounds and, as a result, has varying expectations.

Things to remember when speaking publicly.
The ultimate goal of your presentation is to share your information in a manner that your audience will understand and remember. To achieve this, it is important to keep your listeners interested in what you are saying so they will be totally absorbed in your words.

  • Make your presentation a story. Everyone loves stories, which are by nature easy to remember. Incorporating a plot with characters and personalities will spice up your speech, especially if it´s related to your place of origin or upbringing in a different culture.
  • Involve your audience. When speaking in front of a room of many cultures, or an audience whose background is different from your own, your words may be interpreted in ways other than you intended. By allowing room for feedback and incorporating the listener, you can measure how your message is being received and thus make appropriate adjustments.
  • Stay genuine. Honesty is one of the most important virtues around the globe. It is a value that consistently cuts through cultural barriers. People are keen on dishonesty and, if they sense even the slightest bit of insincerity, you will lose all credibility and listener interest.
  • Don’t impress. While this may seem counter-intuitive, the fact of the matter is that most people don’t care about your awards and certifications. Carefully choose your words and actions so that you aren’t implying that you are better than your audience in any way. Your listeners will only absorb your words if they feel that they are being respected, not contested.

There isn’t one perfect way to give a good presentation. Ultimately, what will define the success of your presentation is not necessarily how well you gave it. More important is how your audience interprets your message and what they choose to do with it. When all is said and done, the ultimate success of your presentation lies in your audience and the impact that your message has on them.

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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: The Gender of Culture: How it May Affect Your Brand

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney-Reyes
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

The Gender of Culture: How it May Affect Your Brand

What is popular in society is always changing. This includes not only music and fashion but also commonly held beliefs, values, attitudes, and interests.

An interesting and notable attitude change that has been occurring in the United States in the last century has been that of the roles of men and women. Moreover, because of the strong influence that the U.S. has over the culture of the rest of the world, similar trends can be found internationally. In other societies, products and services once marketed for a specific gender are becoming increasingly gender-neutral as the social roles of men and women become less defined.

The role that gender plays. What is normal for a particular gender is in an ongoing state of change. But this is not limited to just specific roles that each gender plays. In some countries, there is some evidence that the consumer behaviors of men and women differ, and that there is a long way before the two will be totally the same. Men and women are not viewed as equals. There are nations that tend to be either more masculine or feminine regardless of the gender of the consumer. The masculine and feminine dimension of cultures plays a very important role in respect to the consumer values and how they affect behavior.

Masculine vs. feminine cultures. Masculine cultures value success, competitiveness, achievement, and accumulation of wealth. Feminine cultures, on the other hand, are more people-oriented; relationships and the quality of life are more highly valued. Wealth or material possessions are not as important to them.

What does this mean for your brand? If you want to reach markets beyond your borders, the role that gender plays in your target market is crucial. Where is your market located, and what is the norm there? Keep in mind that what may seem gender-neutral to you may appear highly masculine—or feminine—in some countries.

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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Borderless Brand Mentions: “It’s a flat world, after all.”

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

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

Borderless Brand Mentions: “It’s a flat world, after all.”

How do you think your customers feel about your brand? While this may not be big news to you, people are talking about your brand, and they are doing so in a very public way—online. Customers around the globe are turning to social media to rate, praise, and even condemn products, services, brands, companies, political leaders and pretty much anything they are not happy about. These mentions are everywhere, not only on Twitter and Facebook, but also lurking in small independent forums, chat rooms, and blogs.

The power of people as media. Why are consumers resorting to social media to air their discontent? Generally, their primary purpose is to help other consumers make smart shopping choices, but a good number of brand mentions online are for the sole purpose of revenge. If consumers read unfavorable words about your brand, they will definitely be less likely to purchase from you.

Tracking down social mentions. While you can’t necessarily control what people are ultimately saying about you and your brand, there are definitely tools to monitor these mentions. These tools are everywhere; some are free and some you have to pay for. You may want to consider using these monitoring tools to track down any mentions of you or your brand so you can take the right measures to avoid their ruining your reputation. Think of it as getting effortless survey results. It can be a way of knowing where your services excel and locating the places where they need a bit of love.

The importance of customer service. Catering to customer service is an aspect of business that will never disappear. At the end of the day your business is only in existence thanks to the people who buy from you. Making them happy will ultimately make your business soar. Conversely, it is important to track down how you might be making your customers unhappy so that you can fix your weak areas, limit online brand-bashing, and reach out to a larger market.

There are no borders when it comes to the power and reach of social media!

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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Mi casa es su casa!

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

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

Mi casa es su casa!

Have you ever walked into a small Latin or Asian market? If you have, you’re probably familiar with the immediate sense of rich culture (that may or may not be different from your own) that surrounds you. What is it about these places that give them this vivid genuine feeling? In this increasingly globalized and growingly uniform world it is still not difficult to find strong cultural links to foreign places.

Familiarity, comfort, and culture. Having a quaint global market in your town for the purpose of experiencing brands and items that you would not normally find in your typical supermarket is nice—but what are the underlying reasons that places like these exist? People always want to feel at home, no matter where in the world they are. We feel comfort from the ability to purchase products that are familiar and that share our roots. A recent study from the University of Miami by professors Cong Li and Wanhsiu Sunny Tsai shows that certain consumers strongly associate specific products and brands with their culture. These consumers gave favorable preference to products that they perceived were of their same ethnicity. Thus the idea that culture is restricted to means of dress, food, and certain dances is false—it goes far beyond that.

What does this mean for your business?
This information is useful when choosing a target market so that your business can grow. A small business can benefit tremendously from having reached out to a certain unique community. If your brand inspires feelings of familiarity within clients, they may feel more comfortable purchasing from you—for reasons that they may not even be able to identify within themselves. These feelings can be achieved by marketing your brand to members of your own cultural community. You may even be able to incorporate yourself into the cultural fabric of your area. When it comes to branding across cultures, it sometimes may be best to take a slow route and start your growth within a confined community. Make your market feel at home so at the end of the day “mi casa es su casa.”

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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Your New Year’s Culture

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

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

Your New Year’s Culture
Each January, at the start of a fresh new year, we are reminded that change, growth, and development are within our reach if we make “new year’s resolutions” and stick to them. Of course, we are all optimists and make idealized lists of changes we think we should make to our lifestyle and of accomplishments we would like to achieve. “This year will be different; I’m going to do this the right way!” we tell ourselves. Yet year after year we see our new year’s goals and dreams disintegrate slowly as the months progress.

What exactly is the right way? How do we make sure our goals stay in the front of our minds, and how do we organize our lives so that we can actually reach those goals? The key to this is planning and execution. This isn’t innovative exciting news; it is just a simple strategy that is consistently overlooked. When we set a big goal, we know exactly what we want but only have a vague idea of how to get there. Carefully and clearly breaking up a big goal into smaller, more short-term goals is the best way to realistically achieve what you want. Then, as you check off box after box on your plan, you will not only feel rewarded but will soon find yourself where you want to be.

Professional goal planning and the role of our culture.

Many of us will also be making professional goals for 2013. These are not very different from the lifestyle and personal goals that we have and should be approached the same way—with a plan at hand. However, when we are working with and around people from other cultures, some unforeseen predicaments may arise. Because of our differences in culture, we give differing priorities to certain values. This has a major influence on our goal-making and execution and can also make us involuntarily misjudge other people’s important goals. What is important to remember is that, because we are all different people with different cultural backgrounds, there will be disparities in our goals and the sources of motivation for carrying them out. Keep this in mind when planning for your business, because what you think is best for your company sometimes isn’t what others believe, and this could be solely due to cultural influences.

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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Personal Branding Across Cultures: Get Excited About Your Brand

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

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

Get Excited About Your Brand

It is undeniable that humans foster relationships with certain brands, sometimes favoring some companies for reasons they can’t explain. What many consumers fail to realize is that behind the loving relationship with their favorite product is a marketing specialist who cleverly creates an appealing brand personality designed to lure them in.

A brand’s personality is designed to be human-like, so consumer-product relationships can grow in a way that is similar to real interpersonal bonding. However, a factor that must be taken into consideration when marketers design this personality is creating one that can be interpreted in a globally consistent manner. The vast differences between cultural values around the world make this a difficult task.

Luckily, according to Jennifer Aaker, five key “personality dimensions” stand out and are regarded highly everywhere. In my last article I emphasized the importance of the “sincerity” dimension. But a dimension that more obviously stands out in this list is “excitement.”

What is meant by “excitement”? The word “excitement” brings to mind other vibrant words: unconventionality, style, passion, loudness, movement, exhilaration, thrill, etc. This high-energy word implies never-ending fun and a total lack of boredom.

What does this mean for your brand? People are constantly searching for the means to better enjoy their lives. In this increasingly materialistic society, the vast majority craves to be trendy and sharp, and many are resorting to products and companies that help them fulfill this want. By incorporating the excitement dimension into your brand’s personality, you are creating an image that appeals to this specific customer desire. When you market your brand as exciting, you are sending out a message to your customers that your product is fun, happy, and popular while also subtly advertising that the use of your product will make their lives the same.

Why is this important? The importance of maintaining a globally consistent brand is great. Your goal is to appeal to an international market, while also keeping the interpretation of what your brand means consistent everywhere. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate one or some of Aaker’s five key personality dimensions into your brand’s personality. When this is done, you can market your brand the same way everywhere it is available.

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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