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Episode 62 – Cultural Considerations in Your Brand Strategy

Brand Archetypes
Brand Archetypes
Episode 62 - Cultural Considerations in Your Brand Strategy

Is your business growing internationally? Are you moving into foreign markets? WOOHOO! That’s awesome. It must mean your marketing strategy is working.

Remember when we reviewed taglines and quite a few of the funnier gaffes had to do with mistranslations? 

Remember Kevin’s favorite? The Parker Pens tagline “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” was translated into Spanish as “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.” YIKES!

Although these types of blunders are funny to us consumers, as business owners and marketers we need to be aware that the mistakes do fall into a bigger bucket:  One where you need to consider the impact of cultural differences on your brand strategy. 

Regional differences within the US are not the same thing as taking your show across borders or overseas.

This episode is a review of some of those considerations. Join us as we go over the following things to ABSOLUTELY pay attention to when working in other countries.

  1. Translation. ALWAYS use a native speaker to translate copy. Do not rely on Google Translate, Bable, or other AI. Just don’t.
  2. Colors. Your color palette. In the US we consider the psychology behind colors. For example, red often means passion whereas light blue conveys calm. However, other cultures, particularly Asian countries infuse a lot more meaning and tradition into certain colors. For example, in Iran, the color green signifies government opposition movements while the same color in Ireland is part of their national symbolism.
  3. Gender. The US is particularly progressive when it comes to portraying strong female leaders and the LBGTQ community. However, many countries are not as forward-thinking on one or both of these.
  4. Behavior. The US is pretty aggressive in general and especially about personal rights and freedoms. Some other countries are more community or family-minded. Another example is the use of swear words. We use them fairly liberally here in the US, but Japan considers them extremely disrespectful and a lower form of intelligence.
  5. Story- Telling. Not all fables and tales translate. For example, in the US we have the story of the Stork that brings babies. Diaper brands use this as a symbol. But this isn’t part of the culture of other countries so they would be very confused as to why a giant bird was stealing your baby.
  6.  Religion.  Religions are replete with rules, restrictions, morés, standards … all of which you need to be aware of, and then follow them like you’re a native.

Bottom line: When you decide to expand into new markets, we strrrronnnngly recommend that you do your due diligence. Dig deep to learn about cultural differences and consider how you might need to pivot. 

And, brand consistency is still super important, Don’t think that just because you’re expanding into a new country, that you need to reinvent everything from scratch!  If you did that, you’d end up essentially having two independent brands to manage.  One of the huge advantages of using archetypes is you can avoid that and simplify your brand strategy.

Here’s how we suggest you approach this: 

    • Step One: Figure out your archetype. Take our questionnaire. It’s FREE!
    • Step Two: Be clear on the exact emotional connection you’re going to establish, your brand’s missions and goals, and your “Why.”
    • Step Three: Once you have those ideas firmly established, you shouldn’t ever feel a need to change them.  They’ll act as the solid rock foundation of everything you do in your brand.  These ideas should be so fundamental, they should have no problem crossing borders.

New cultural differences that you encounter might now subtly change your specific messaging, the brand assets you pick, and the approach you take to specific marketing campaigns, but the high-level brand strategy should remain the same.  GO ARCHETYPES!


Do you think we missed any important ideas when shifting into new cultural spaces? If so, please, please reach out to us. 

Questions? Call us! Don’t be shy! We love this stuff!

Follow us on all the social media @BrandArchetypes.

Kevin & Amy

Kevin Skarritt and Amy Zander are the co-creators of the Brand Archetypes podcast and co-authors of the book by the same name. Explore the world of Brand Archetypes and find out how they can transform your company!

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