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How brands become cultural symbols that connect with people.

Gone are the days where a one-size-fits-all approach was the path to growing a brand across diverse and intrinsically unique markets. Regardless of where an organisation operates, localising your brand to be relevant to each market your brand has presence in helps your build stronger and deeper connections with consumers in ways that resonate with them across cultural markers familiar to them. After all, you can’t expect a brand or advertising campaign you launched in South Africa or Britain to give you the same results in Botswana or Nigeria. Cultures vary greatly from one country to another, and even from region to region within the same country regardless of language or social similarities. Localising your brand allows you delve deep into the hearts and minds of the consumer without the ‘country of origin’ perspective that so often derails well intended multinational brand building efforts.

Localising your brand is the process of taking a brand, campaign or product and adapting it to a new market. The term can refer to a whole variety of strategies and processes. Essentially, any process you use to ease your transition into a new market could be considered localisation. This may be something as simple as translating your brand voice or messaging to something more complex like reimagining an entire advertising campaign to be more culturally appropriate. Other processes involved in localisation include transcreation (the act of recreating an ad or another kind of promotional material to adapt it to a new market) and transliteration (the act of transcribing content into another dialect).

Cultural branding recognises that many of our purchasing decisions are dictated by the desire to belong, to be part of something unique. Brands have to understand that they are experienced in micro moments. People’s connections with brands are fragmented, they move from one to the next in search of something more, looking for richer experiences that add value to their lives. People judge a brand as a whole, evaluating and editing every moment, experience and meaning. By making these critical decision points part of your brand’s arsenal, can you earn the right to stay in a person’s life, every minute of every day.

Brands are now expected to move at the speed of people’s demands, seamlessly fitting into people’s lives creating customized experiences around a single individual, anticipating and evolving along with peoples personal expectations. That means successful brands often stand out by blending in and re-creating themselves through lived experiences because people measure the entire experience by how much it adds to their lives and how little it disrupts it.

When cultural branding is done right, brands become cultural symbols that are meaningful to people, build long lasting connections and in the process, add value and create ecosystems around their brand where communities are formed and the brand becomes part of everyday social rituals.

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