Authors: Stephan Schwarz, Dr. Christoph Kochhan and Dr. Holger Schunk
Abstract: Due to globalization, i.e. the increasing interconnection and interdependence of national economies, companies and their brands now operate internationally in different markets across the world. Companies often face a dilemma: On the one hand, the way a brand is positioned cannot be completely different from country to country; on the other hand, companies must take the cultural characteristics of the individual countries into consideration and adapt their brand communication measures accordingly. The question therefore arises as to how cultural conditions influence brand communication. To answer this question, a pilot study based on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions was carried out, in which criteria were developed in order to evaluate commercials and a total of 66 spots featuring 10 different brands for the US and Chinese markets were analyzed. The result shows that although there are latent cultural differences in the way brands are communicated, these differences are smaller than one would expect from Hofstede's studies. One explanatory approach is that brands are primarily global in nature and the impact of culture on brand communication is only secondary.
Keywords: culture, branding, advertisement, intercultural communication, brand management, international branding