Marketing across cultures

Things to Remember When Marketing Across Different Cultures

Published on Oct 16, 2020

Today we are living in an era where geographical boundaries are no longer rigid. We can travel anywhere in the world, interact with people of all nationalities and cultures, above all purchase and mingle with brands that surface across various national boundaries.

The main credit goes to the technologies through which we can see the world around us. Whether in the form of transportation or visual media; we get the opportunity to understand the “other”, that seemed distant centuries back.

This national and cultural accessibility expanded many brands with the possibility of engaging with a broad international audience, opening the doors for expansion.

But often there have been cases of marketing blunders caused by many famous brands because of ignorance and cultural-stereotyping.

So, today we will talk about key factors that you should keep in mind when trying to market your brand across the world among different cultures.

3 Marketing Elements to Keep in Mind

We have a world filled with diverse cultures that embrace different beliefs, traditions, symbolic significance, and elements. Hence, any strategy that misrepresents or uses an inappropriate tone in their international marketing campaigns can invite criticism. This can further damage your reputation in that culture and country.

So, let me share with you 3 important elements that you should be cautious about when marketing your brand internationally.

1. Choosing a Significant Color

The first and most important factor is choosing the right color.

Different cultures have different ways to interpret color. If a culture celebrates a particular color, another culture might associate that color with omen and bad luck.

Infographic of Cultural Significance of Color (Cross-cultural marketing)

A typical example would be the color Red. Although Red can signify several things in western societies, ranging from love to violence, in China Red is an auspicious color signifying celebration. So, marketers have to be extremely careful about the context of the visual campaigns when using this color.

Hence, it is always best to choose colors that are more universally safe and have a common association. 

You will notice that most of the global brands use the colors green, blue, and black, in their logos and for marketing. 

Statistics suggest that blue is the most popular color among brands, making up 23% of the global companies. It is obvious, as this color is a safer choice. 

Let me further elaborate

In South and North America, Blue signifies spirituality and religion. Arab countries perceive Blue with the sense of protection. In China, they often see Blue as a feminine color, connected with immortality. In India, people associate Blue with the notions of protection, strength and spirituality. 

Hence now when we further link it with marketing, we associate this color with trust and reliability. So, choose your brand colors wisely and carefully if you want to create a global impact.

2. Translating the Actual Message

Translating your brand message in other languages is a serious thing and needs proper care. So, relying on Google translate might not be the best choice you make regarding marketing your brand in other countries.

I am sure you remember the translation blunders made by famous brands such as Coca-cola and KFC. The mistakes might seem hilarious now, but it made them land in an awkward situation at that time.

Let’s start with Coca-Cola.  When Coca-Cola landed in China, then they wanted to translate the words with Chinese alphabets that sound similar. But the Chinese words that they used actually meant, “Bite the Wax Tadpole”. Hence, they had to let go of their idea and adopted words which meant, “Happiness in the mouth”.

If we talk about KFC, their translation was even more hideous. When KFC got launched in the Chinese market, they wanted to translate their slogan, “finger lickin’ good”. But their translation was a complete faux pas, as it ended meaning, “Eat your fingers off”. This resulted in them being ousted from the Chinese lands for 10 years.

So, when you’re building your brand in the foreign market, it is ideal to hire a translator who can correctly help you in reconstructing your brand messages and slogans. Embarrassing mistakes get ingrained with your brand’s identity, leaving an unforgettable impression.

For a safer option, you can customize your brand messages based on different nationalities and cultures. This will always keep you in a better position globally.

3. Being Culturally Appropriate

Cultural appropriateness is a complex yet very important aspect of branding your business globally.

Visual messages that present the content in the wrong context can making your brand appear insensitive and culturally ignorant.

To properly explain the importance of being extra mindful of the campaign narratives, let me remind you of the crucial mistakes that were made by Tesco, Starbucks, and Kurl-On-Mattresses.

Tesco, a retail store in the UK, dedicated an aisle to the famous snacks brand, Pringles Chips. This brand launched a special flavor to celebrate the Ramadan festival of 2015. Funnily, the flavor was smoked bacon, which offended the Muslims. This is because the Muslims forbids pork consumption (Haram).

Coming to Starbucks, we all remember the controversial campaign, “Race Together” that brought in a wave of criticism. They focused this campaign on the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner that led to civil unrest and discussion on intolerance based on racist attitudes. Although Starbuck’s had a nobler intention when launching this campaign via their coffee cups and TV commercials, it backfired, appearing as offensive and inappropriate.

When talking about inappropriateness, the marketing world can never forget the advertisement of Kurl-On Mattresses, conceptualized by Ogilvy. The concept was about, “Bounce Back”, which sounds good and motivating, but the selection of the theme was misleading. So, basically, the advertisement posters showed a cartoon form of the social activist and Nobel Prize Laureate Mala Yousafzai, being shot (presumably by the Taliban), falling on the mattress, and again bouncing back to protest against it. 

Well, let me show you the poster:

See what I mean!

Ogilvy faced heavy criticism and had to post an official apology about this ad.

Templates that are Culturally Friendly at DocHipo

Once you properly understand these 3 vital points about marketing your brand in the global space, you can now strategize your visuals easily. 

At DocHipo you will get tons of multifarious templates for creating almost all types of documents. These templates are not only superbly creative but can be used in any cultural setting.

Let me take you through different documents that consist of culturally friendly templates.


We at DocHipo could not curb the constant urge of being a part of all the national and cultural events of the world. Hence to celebrate different traditions, cultures, and national festivities, we created Poster templates for all, living in any part of the world. Check these out.

New Year:

Christmas and Easter:

Musical events:

Mother’s Day:

Thanksgiving Day:



The logo templates at DocHipo are based on soft neutral colors that do not clash with any cultural beliefs and stigmas. You can customize these logos to fit-in with your branding vision, enriching your marketing initiatives.

Check these out:

Social Graphic

When marketing online in social media platforms, you have to post graphics and images that are universally appealing. As in this platform, our audiences come from every part of the world.





It is every brand’s dream to have its reach all over the world.

You can fulfill this dream too. But to achieve this aspiration, all you need is proper research and inter-cultural understanding. Along with this, you must also inculcate a feeling of sensitivity towards different cultural and nationalistic associations.

This understanding will help you strategize your marketing campaigns, which are powerful and depict a strong universal message.

So let’s build brands that embrace all and bind people from different walks of life and cultures.

As for designs, you have DocHipo to the rescue, where you can download any template of your choice for any kind of document. You also have the option to customize an existing template or recreate right from scratch to match your vision.

So Hurry and download stunning templates to market your brand cross-culturally!