The pitfalls of branding across culture

And speaking
of the egg…according to a recent Vedomosti article, the idea of using an egg as
the great rebranding symbol is a complete failure
. As I noted, the rebranding was led by
British firm Wolff Olins, which also did BeeLine’s rebranding. As Vedomosti noted, in England an egg represents simplicity – hence the English saying "simple as an egg." Yet
in Russia, as Vedomosti wrote, "In Russia an egg means not just simplicity but also a certain body part." As in balls.

This might explain why a recent industry poll showed that only 1% of Russians exposed to
the ad associated an egg with "value and reliability" while 28% associated it with "the
human anatomy," 26% with cooking, and 24% with "other" – that is, they were ashamed to say
"balls." As for respondents’ emotional reactions to the ad, such associations as "positive," "clear," and "simple" didn’t break the 5% barrier, while 31% had "no emotional
reaction," 25% found it "strange," 14% "double-meaning-ed," and 11 % found it just plain
"funny." A whopping 70% felt that an egg did not become the image of Eastern Europe’s
largest mobile operator.

Damn, that is funny!

I came across this article on the rebranding saga of MTS, Russia’s largest mobile operator through Konstantin Dlutskiy’s wonderful Russian Marketing blog. It encapsulates what I’d been attempting to say in my previous post on interpreting brand values across cultures using relevant cues and signals.

What surprises me, is that in this day and age, years after such fiascos as the infamous ‘Nova’ (now considered an urban myth), cross cultural miscommunication in branding is taking place at this scale and scope.

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This entry was posted in Business, Design, India/China/Asia. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The pitfalls of branding across culture

  1. (Mis)communication

    The weblog Perspective has an enlightened discussion on the importance of culture in the translation of a brand. While we tend to objectify the brand into some kind of emotional experience or loyalty bond between the customer and the product or comp…

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