One of the most difficult things in creating a successful business is branding. You want to be instantly recognized for a successful and meaningful service or product, and you want your business to be compelling enough to generate interest.

In order to remain relevant, it’s important to understand that relevancy is a fluid beast. What works for you and your company today may not work next year or even next month. A good marketing company knows this and will help you brand your business appropriately. You can certainly read the data yourself and brand your business according to the numbers, but will you be culturally relevant if you proceed in that way? Maybe, maybe not.

When establishing a brand for your business, you have to think about how your customers will interact with your product. What are their views? What are their values? If you don’t take the time to research these things, you cannot hope to make your company relevant in today’s market. On that note, here are ways that you can make your brand culturally relevant.

1. Know the Culture

Many people who start a business take the time to determine their customer base. If you are selling locally from a storefront, you may only need to look outside your front door. If you are selling online and shipping, you will have to broaden your horizons.

What does that mean? It means that an ad campaign in Ohio may not work in California. If you are selling internationally, something that works for you in America may not come across well in Asia. Different cultures have different values. If you want to gain customers or clients, you will need to speak to them personally. That means taking the time to understand the culture of your target customer base.

2. Speak to an Expert

The truth is this: You are likely not an expert on cultures. The good news is that there are people who are. If you attempt to switch up your advertising strategies or your overall branding to appeal to the different cultures you service, chances are that you are going to make a misstep. An expert can help you.

Think of it like this: You are traveling from from Louisiana to New York City. You plan on going out for a nice dinner and put on your best pair of jeans and a colorful shirt. You would be dressed to the nines at home. You walk into the restaurant only to see men and women in their blacktie best and you stick out like a sore thumb. Your outfit was perfect… for home.

You’ve got to think about your branding in that same vein. What works locally may not work nationally or globally. Enlisting the help of an expert can give you insight into how you should be branding yourself for different markets and sticking out for all the right reasons.

3. Research for Yourself

While hiring an expert will certainly lead you in the right direction, it shouldn’t be all that you rely on. Use the information as a guide and then immerse yourself in different cultures. Thanks to America being the melting pot that it is, you shouldn’t have to travel very far to find a culture different than your own. Once you understand the cultures of the people you are trying to reach, you will be able to utilize the expert data and make your own, informed decisions.

4. Respect Core Values

There are values within a culture that are unique and must be respected. What do the people in your target market consider to be a core value? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you need to find out immediately. Knowing and respecting core values and traditions — and what people in certain cultures find offensive — is essential if you want to remain relevant across the board.

5. Learn a New Language

We aren’t telling you that you have to take a course in a language you are unfamiliar with. What we are telling you is that you need to know the language your base speaks. Major brands have found this out the hard way. For example, Nokia’s Windows Phone, Lumia, is a word that is found in Spanish slang. While the translation isn’t exact, it essentially means a lady of the night.

In Iran, the word “barf” is a happy, positive one meaning “snow.” A Swedish company couldn’t break into the Finnish market with its brand Loka. Why? Because in Finnish, loka means dirt. Make sense?

Whether you are naming a product or your own company, pay close attention to what you may be saying to others. If your brand name can be translated into a word that could potentially hurt your sales, whether literal or in slang, think of something else. It’s just one more way that you can ensure that you have taken the time to really understand who you are serving.

Branding your company is not an easy thing to do if it is done correctly. It’s also not something that can only be done once unless it is done perfectly. Don’t rely on data and number crunchers to brand your business. If you want to remain relevant, you’ve got to be aware of culture and values of those you are hoping to gain as customers.

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