Posted on October 17, 2018

#TheCultureFactor2018 Recap

What is the impact of cultural differences on global companies’ brands?

Many interesting answers came from the international conference "The Power of Culture-Led Brands", organized by Hofstede Insights and held in Milan at the Mediobanca Conference Room.

More than one hundred participants followed a very intensive program exploring the impact of culture on brands and how we can strategically integrate the cultural factor for the benefit of companies and their customers.

But besides a company brand, there exists a personal one: participants immediately experienced how the first impression, given or received when one meets a different culture, depends largely on the cultural factor. In this exploration, the Hofstede Six-Dimensions Model and the Mental Images were the practical cultural compass presented.

The speakers focused on the theme of the conference from many points of view, starting with the importance of educating our young people to investigate the intercultural universe: a purpose and mission pursued by IULM University for over a decade, thanks to the Master's degree in International Communication attended by students from over thirty countries.

An important reflection offered by the second intervention and immediately grasped by the public: the reputation of a global company is affected by what one could call the "national brand", an element that can have a positive or negative effect on the success of any organization.

And more: why do we trust and are loyal to a brand? The secret lies in the evolution of the human species, in its most ancient instinct and in cultural belonging. Trust is created when the need for security is met: these are therefore two key factors every brand must consider, declining them according to different cultures’ expectations.

Immediately afterwards we had an interesting example: the speaker illustrated with advertising videos and images how global companies can capture and integrate cultural aspects in spreading their messages to customers.

But there’s a hidden customer not always taken into consideration, yet very important for the credibility of a brand: the people who work in the company. They are the ones who embody the values underlying the brand, and in their everyday work, they can ( and should) be excellent amplifiers of the corporate image. Co-designing with them their working experience should be part of every brand strategy.

Very engaging, then, the examples offered by two speakers: many personal experiences in dealing with different cultures when behaviors we judge as “normal” can be incomprehensible and even offensive to those of a different culture.

The audience enjoyed the stories, yet the authentic message was momentous: before judging or feeling offended, it’s essential to rely on one's cultural intelligence, to explore and solve the case. And Hofstede Dimensions are a pragmatic tool to create cultural awareness and competence.

Cultural intelligence is also the first valuable element to fill the gap existing between the need to act as brand a globally and, at the same time, as a successfully trusted brand locally. This dilemma is not easy to solve, but the in-depth marketing research presented by the last speaker, combined with the cultural factor, offer an accurate tool to effectively “narrate” a brand, respecting the values supporting it.

The final panel discussion deepened some interesting topics and many questions were answered.

The conference next year will be in Luxembourg: an event not to be missed!

See the photos:

Watch the videos:

Written by

Anna Paulo Simonetti

Hofstede Insights Associate partner and part of the organising committee for #TheCultureFactor2018