January 26, 2006

"We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp. Some are pretty.
Some are Dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors.
But, they all fit nicely into the same box."

- Source Unknown

In this issue:
AbuLLard: Cross Cultural Branding
Audhumbla: How Culture Affects Web Sites
Brand Element: Product Identifiers
HayLoise's Book Review: Global Brands, Brand Icons
Brand Tidbits: Cross Cultural Marketing Mistakes


AbuLLard Talks about Culture and Branding

Working with Japanese business partners, I became fascinated with the impact of the difference in cultural values on business practices. Teaching others about these differences, I have become convinced that the principles required for understanding start with the differences between "you and I" — whatever our national heritage.

-- Jean Wilcox

Coming soon: AbuLLard goes to Latin America

CattLeLogos has teamed up with
Liz Cruz-Kaegi of CKQuest Business Intelligence
to put together a workshop on

Marketing Cross Cultures

Exploring Cultural Mindsets:
Latin American
Historical, Cultural and Linguistic Perspective

Call us: 215.732.1553
[email protected]

The Impact of Culture on Brand Image

We've talked a lot about the importance of knowing your audience. That means knowing what's important to them, how to talk to them, and how to make an emotional connection. However, what if your target audience is from another country, or in a foreign country? Will the same images and messages connect with them?

There are many differences between cultures. Some are obvious. Many more are very subtle. The obvious differences show up in the way people behave, what they wear, what they eat, holiday customs. However, most of these are influenced by values, experience, and beliefs that have a profound influence on communication styles.

Each person grows up within a unique cultural environment which is influenced by personal and family values, as well as local, state, national, and geographic factors. From this experience, each person develops a cultural mindset —a predisposition to see the world in a particular way. This mindset can be considered as software for the brain, forming the foundation of a person's way of viewing and interacting with the world. These factors are assimilated into a persons subconscious way of thinking and acting from a very early age.

There are many studies in the literature on cross-cultural studies that discuss the key variables that impact intercultural communication. Two of the most important are:

Context vs Content - The difference is that, High-Context communication involves implying a message through that which is not uttered. This includes the situation, behavior, and para-verbal cues as integral parts of the communicated message. High-Content communication occurs predominantly through explicit statements in text and speech, and they are thus categorized as Low-Context cultures.

Scandinavians, Germans, the Swiss, and most Americans communicate predominantly through Content. In cultures, such as Latin American, the Japanese, and Chinese, messages include other communicative cues such as body language and the use of silence. How and where you say something in these cultures can more important than what you say.

Atomic vs Molecular cultures - This relates to how people view themselves with respect to other people in their family or work group. Americans of northern European descent act as individual atoms. We value personal freedom, independence ... Popular sayings such as “If you want a job done right, do it yourself,” and “ You have to blow your own horn” reveal this emphasis on autonomy. Actively pursuing one’s personal interests is considered natural and legitimate.

By contrast, Latin Americans and Asians, for example, are much more sensitive to their "group". The use of networks and connections, the exchange of information and favors, the obligation toward and reliance on the extended family all reflect the “molecular” structure of these societies. Communication in these cultures requires that one be more indirect, diplomatic, non-confrontational, and cautious in communicating with others because there is a positive or negative multiplier effect in every social or business transaction. A good interaction may gain one multiple allies (members of the other person’s group) while a negative encounter has the potential of creating numerous opponents for oneself.

Both of these factors impact have a huge impact on communications --- images, words, and methods. Successful marketing has to do more than merely translate the English-language materials into A foreign language. Many times it must use an entirely different approach to the consumer.

Multicultural marketing is complex -- even within similar cultural groups, there can be differences which must be taken in to account. Consider the Japanese reaction to Chinese actresses being cast in in Memoirs of a Geisha.

A few recommendations:

  • Become familiar with the culture you will be working with.
  • Learn the dimensions of communication and the important values.
  • Find out how your specific type of product or service is promoted in that culture.
  • Hire or collaborate with people who understand the market you are targeting.

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements and Seminars
February 22, 2006
The ABC's of Branding

E-Women Network
Monthly Luncheon
11:30 to 1:30 PM

Click Here for more information

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Communicating for the Bottom Line:  A Workshop for Small Business Owners & Nonprofit Executives


8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Hartman Lounge & Lenfell Hall
The Mansion
College at Florham, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ

Sponsored in association with the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, Silberman College of Business, Fairleigh Dickinson University

For more information
call:  973-443-8709 or
E-mail:  [email protected]
Coming in March

A series of four workshops:

Monday, March 13
Brand Management

Monday, March 20
Creating a Brand Story

Monday, March 27
Managing Your Brand on the Desktop

Monday, April 3
Brand Issues in e-Marketing

Each is a 2 hour workshop, from 4 PM to 6PM, with hands on exercises focused on your brand.

Click here for more information.

Want to find out what business events are being planned by over 100 organizations?



AudhumbLa's Eye on the Internet

High Context Cultures

Arab Countries
North America
Scandinavian Countries
German-speaking Countries

Low Context Cultures

Source (1990):
Hall, E. and M. Hall.
Understanding Cultural Differences


Culture and Context and the On-Line Experience

Expanded reach is one of the great benefits of the Internet — in both web-based and email communications. However, effective communications involves both Culture and Context, and their respective cues. This presents an interesting dilemma for the Internet — namely, how do you design and engineer your communications to your target audiences in a largely Low-Context medium?

Important Considerations

  • High-Context cultures tend to use indirect, non-confrontational, and vague language, relying on the listener's or reader's ability to grasp the meaning from the context. Behavioral language, such as gestures, body language, silence, proximity and symbolic behavior, are as important as the spoken or written word. Communication will often be indirect and circular, jumping back and forth and leaving out detail, assuming this to be implicit. Lastly, such cultures believe that truth will manifest itself through non-linear discovery processes and without having to employ rationality.

  • Low-Context cultures tend to use a more direct, confrontational, and explicit approach to ensure that the listener receives the message exactly as it was sent. Conversation in Low-Context cultures tends to be less physically animated, with the meaning depending on content and the spoken word, and a flow that will get straight to the point. Lastly, these cultures tend to emphasize logic and rationality, believing that there is always an objective truth that can be reached through linear processes of discovery.

Beyond this, the study of cultural values looks at how those values affect communications. Using the four cultural factors proposed by Hofstede (1980), the following should be considered:

  • Individual vs. Collective Identity. In individualist societies, personal freedom is valued and individual decision-making is encouraged. Low-Context Cultures like that of the United States tend towards individualism. Their communications will highlight individual accomplishment, unique benefit and personalization. On the contrary, in collectivist societies, societal norms and social benefit are valued and communicated.

  • Uncertainty Avoidance. Uncertainty avoidance concerns the extent to which the people of a country can tolerate ambiguous or uncertain situations. High-Context Cultures typically demand uncertainty avoidance — their communications is relatively risk-averse, comforting, and provides concrete direction.

  • Masculine vs. Feminine Identity. Masculine cultures value assertiveness, ambition, success, and performance. To such cultures big and fast is beautiful, the machismo ideal is acceptable, and clear gender roles are the norm. In contrast, feminine cultures value, beauty, nature, nuturance, the maschimo ideal is not acceptable, and gender roles are blurred. Countries such as Japan, Austria, and Mexico are examples of masculine cultures, while most of the Nordic countries score high on femininity.

  • Power Distance. Societies that are high on power distance, such as Malaysia, Mexico, and India, accept power and hierarchy in society and are low on egalitarianism. The emphases in high power distance societies are on status, referent power, authority, and legitimacy; their communications reflects this. In contrast, communications from low distance societies like Canada and the United States stress equality and fairness.

What's important to remember is that just translating your message into a local language is not sufficient for developing your Internet-based communications. The use of software on the Internet that offers automatic translation services may be prone to various cultural errors, because context and culture are largely ignored.

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Beyond Culture

Besides culture, several other factors influence how Context is interpreted:

  • gender
  • age
  • profession
  • locality

Nowadays, emails and websites are more than just a collection of text; they are often images, multimedia, interactive features, animated graphics, and sounds

Image substitutes for non-verbal cues on the Internet. The elements of Image impacted by specific cultural interpretation include:

  • Layout
  • Text Length
  • Orientation (e.g., left to right)
  • Choice of Pictures
  • Translation Equivalence
  • Dialects
  • Country-Specific Symbols
  • Icons
  • Color Symbolism

Brand Element of the Month:

Product Icons






Product Identifiers

We've talked in the past about brand extensions -- using your main brand to launch a new or modified product in the same broad market. It leverages the recognition of an existing brand, making it easier for a company to enter a new product category. What about developing recognizable icons for particular product offerings under the aegis of a single company?

We were recently asked this question by a our colleagues at Jobecca Technology. Jobecca Technology Group, LLC is a computer systems consulting business specializing in information technology strategic planning and support for businesses and end-user. They have developed three particular "packages" of service offerings that they want to be able to easily differentiate on their web site and in marketing materials.

  • CSP, Comprehensive Support Plan, a fixed price for regularly scheduled maintenance on your computers and networks, and all other elements that an IT department would provide for a business (budgeting, consulting, software compliance and discretionary support)

  • AM-PM, Automated Maintenance Preventive Maintenance, updates your systems while you sleep, monitors them and fixes problems automatically

  • FSSP, Firewall and Security Services Plan, robust security and remote connectivity services that are easy to implement and maintain, and an affordable price

In conversations with Michael Einbinder-Schatz, Principal, we discussed the details of each service and what kind of image he wanted to project about each offering. We went back and forth a couple of times with some different images. The icons at right are the final selections.

Michael says, "I felt that the time had come to seriously market our core service offerings.  Extending our brand down to the icon level felt like a logical step.  Fortunately, Cattlelogos made the process a breeze.  They provided terrific ideas and even welcomed my input into the collaborative process.  Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the result."

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Jobecca Service Offerings


Comprehensive Support Package


Automated Maintenance
Preventive Maintenance


Firewall and Security Services Plan

HayLoise's Books of the Month


Are there any books that have given you important insights into branding?
Tell us about them.

Send HayLoise an e-mail.


Global Brand Strategy: Unlocking Brand Potential Across Countries, Cultures And Markets, By Sicco Van Gelder

How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding, By Douglas B. Holt

This month we are focusing on Culture and what must be considered when building a successful Brand in the international market place. The two books I have selected both address the importance of culture when building a Brand, but from different points of view.

Global Brand Strategy: Unlocking Brand Potential Across Countries, Cultures And Markets was written by Sicco Van Gelder, who runs Brand Meta, a Netherlands-based global branding consultancy. Van Gelder has written a textbook that is a must for anyone who is addressing global markets. He gives in-depth case studies as well as some hypothetical branding projects. He also presents his “global brand proposition model”, and gives examples of how to use it. He draws upon his vast personal experience to drive home the importance of considering local culture, customs, and values when marketing internationally. A must read for anyone who is entering international marketing or developing a global brand.

How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding was written by Douglas B. Holt, the L’Oreal Chair of Marketing at Oxford University. Holt is an academic who presents his own viewpoint on how to build an Iconic Brand (Coca-Cola, Snapple, ESPN) based on a deep understanding of the ‘culture’ of the targeted customers. He challenges many of the traditional rules many marketing executives live by, i.e. he suggests that consistency can be deadly for a brand, and that paying attention to the majority of a brand’s customers can destroy the brand’s value. He builds his case by presenting four Branding Models: Cultural Branding (the basis of his model); Mind-Share Branding (traditional Branding model); Emotional Branding; and Viral Branding, and then demonstrating the limitations of each of them. His book is definitely an exciting read, and provides food for thought.

Both books provide needed insights into how Culture can affect your Branding Success. One provides tremendous insight into what must be done, the other what could be done. I strongly recommend both.

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Click on the book cover image to go to its page on Amazon.com





Brand Tidbits of the Month:
Cultural Mistakes


Coca-cola logoChinese characters for bite the wax tadpole



Chinese characters for Coca-cola

Some International Marketing Gaffes ...

Coca-Cola, Ke-ke-ken-la, Ko-kou-ko-le

The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-ke-ken-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the phrase means "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax" depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, ko-kou-ko-le, which can be loosely translated as "happiness in the mouth."

Things weren't much easier for Coke's arch-rival Pepsi. When they entered the Chinese market a few years ago, the translation of their slogan "Pepsi Brings you Back to Life" was a little more literal than they intended. In Chinese, the slogan meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave".

Ford Models don't translate well in Spanish...

Ford's Comet, was called "Caliente" in Mexico. "Caliente" literally means "hot" (as in temperature), but colloquially it is also used for either "horny" or "prostitute". Ford's Fiera doesn't do well either, since "fiera" means "ugly old woman". Ford's Cortina translated as "jalopy".


The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read "Are you lactating?"

Perdue Chicken

Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," got terribly mangled in another Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained "It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused."

Dangerous Pens...

When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." However, the company mistakenly thought the Spanish word "embarazar" meant embarrass. Instead the ads said "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

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Several months ago, our Stand-Up Sheep, Gus, asked readers to submit new jokes for his act. Here's the winner:

A local business was looking for office help. They put a sign in the window, stating the following: "HELP WANTED: Must be good with a computer and must be bilingual. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer."

A short time afterwards, a sheep moseyed up to the window, saw the sign and went inside. The office manager looked at the sheep and said, "I can't hire you. You have to be able to type, and use a computer."

The sheep went to the computer and typed out a perfect letter. Then he ran several office applications.

By this time the manager was totally dumb-founded! He said, "I realize that you are a very talented sheep but the sign also says that you have to be bilingual".

The sheep looked at the manager calmly and said,

Many Thanks to:
Rebecca St. Martin

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Give us a call: 215.732.1553 or contact us by e-mail.

Copyright 2005 CattLeLogos Brand Management Systems, LLC. All rights reserved.

CattLeLogos is a Registered Trademark of CattLeLogos Brand Management Systems, LLC. AbuLLard, AbuLLard's ABC's of Branding, HayLoise, AudhumbLa, ChurnbuLL, deCaLfe, and the CattLeLogos Method are trademarks and copyright CattLeLogos Brand Management Systems, LLC.

Published January 26, 2006

Contact us:
[email protected]