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Multi-cultural branding

in an age of meaning

By Tania Tai, Managing Director, MY

Is homogenous marketing officially a thing of the past?

There was a glimmer of hope for marketers when Uniqlo’s made-for-all casuals took the world by storm. The brand’s simple and essential, yet universal style formula managed to transcend age, gender, culture and all the other ways that define people. At face value, Uniqlo’s success seems to signal that the concept of mass customisation is still very much alive today. But perhaps, there is more than meets the eye.

We live in a world of hyper connectedness and cross-cultural confluence. Contrary to popular belief, culture has never been just about shared values and beliefs within a specific demographic segment. “If you look at the list of the 1,000 favourite artists for 60-year-olds and the 1,000 favourite artists for 13-year-olds, there is a 40% overlap,” says George Ergatoudis (Head of Music, BBC Radio 1). Consumers of today aren’t behaving the way they ‘should’, which makes cross-cultural marketing tougher than ever. That is why we need to go beyond traditional demographic models to reframe customer conversations and find new opportunities that bring people together in more meaningful ways – a way of life, a shared passion or a common cause. Anything and everything that defines tribes today is the new cultural reality.


Welcome to the Age of Meaning, where market success lies in the power of nuanced contexts and the brand’s ability to empower their customers. As I was curating the web for gems to share, some gung-ho early adopters caught my eye. May these stories inspire new ways of thinking, as you supercharge your brand advocates.

Asiri’s Brand with Benefits

Asiri Group of Hospitals, one of Sri Lanka’s largest healthcare providers, stayed true to their purpose by creating the ultimate Soap Bus Ticket. In May 2015, commuters enjoyed better protection from germs by putting their soap-infused paper bus tickets to good use.


Tip #1
Lead with purpose and find the empathetic heart of your business. Think about how else you can embed value into things that would ordinarily get wasted. Consider the ‘idle’ resources within that you would be able to repurpose and solve a real world problem.

Amul’s Quirky Twist

In the land of cultural diversities, India’s most popular butter brand has stayed true to its authentic brand DNA in quirky campaigns that ‘tell the stories of India’. Amul stays close to their customers by engaging in meaningful conversations: be it politics, social issues, sports, movie releases or the life of an ordinary man. Basically, it all boils down to ‘bread and butter’, the simple pleasures in everyday life.


Tip #2
Hit the hammer while the iron is hot. Capitalise on the current events and issues; share a refreshing take and own it. It’s a great opportunity to latch on to today’s conversations and create a loyal following.

Nutella’s pursuit to ‘Share the Love’

Nutella’s fans love it so much that they think it deserves a holiday! Founded by a hardcore Nutella fan, ‘The World Nutella Day’ became the medium for Nutella lovers to come together on this day to share their love for Nutella through poems, recipes and photographs on Facebook. Realising the admiration for the brand amongst its fans, ‘The World Nutella Day’ is now celebrated every 5th February by Ferrero, inviting followers around the world to celebrate the joy of Nutella in interesting ways like creating Nutella inspired art, giving Nutella to people you love, and many more.


Tip #3
Unite through passion and make your brand the touchstone in your customer’s life. Are you ready for the mental shift from segments to tribes and seek out your truest possible fans? Do not underestimate the depth of commitment and interconnection that true fans deliver.

Culture is evolving every moment, inspiring new habits, trends and conversations. In this dynamic world with erasable borders, I hope you will find your secret tool that transcends all differences and exudes a multi-cultural appeal that binds. All the best!


Photo: Uniqlo

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