How Important Is It To Be Culturally Sensitive For Brand Management

A detergent company decided to advertise its product in Arab countries. The ad had a series of images showing a dirty t-shirt in the first picture, detergent and dirty t-shirt in a washing machine in the second picture and a clean t-shirt in the third one. These images were placed horizontally. The company was ignorant of the fact that in Arab, text and images are read from right to left and hence the message they sent to people was that their detergent makes a clean t-shirt dirty.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

This proverb must be a motto of every brand manager. Cultural awareness can make or break a brand. As a brand manager, you must be aware of the culture of the target audience. This is a major challenge that is faced by companies all over the world. We live in a diverse world and to gain acceptance, companies must be aware of the do’s and don’ts of the culture that prevails in the target market. Often brand messages get lost in translation or get misinterpreted.

Have a look at cases of Kellogg’s and McDonald’s and how they almost lost out in the Indian market.

Key Takeaways

1. It is important to be aware of culture, laws, behaviour, etc. of the target market.

2. Exhibiting respect towards local culture can help brands gain initial acceptance.

3. This is extremely important for companies that are trying to go global and capturing market shares in new economies.

4. As seen in the case of McDonald’s, at times it is important to redesign the product as per the local culture.

This chapter is a part of “Brand Management” Course on Konversations. It’s a unique masterclass by Rajesh Srivastava, the man who has nurtured brands like Bagpiper and Park Avenue deodorant and taught at bschools like IIM Indore and S. P. Jain School of Global Management. Check out the free sample module of the course here.

If you have ever dreamed of building a brand or becoming a brand yourself, then this course is for you.


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