When it comes to branding, be it personal or for your business, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula.
Even monolithic companies who invest every bit as much in their brand as their product (like Apple or Virgin) have to make changes to their wares based on the environment they happen to find themselves in.
It happens everywhere, and you notice it a lot more when traveling.
Car companies sell different models in different parts of the world. Computer manufacturers will release new products in some markets before others. Mobile devices and mobile plans have incredible diversity based on where you are in the world.
The humble potato chip can be a ‘chip’ or a ‘crisp,’ and worldwide you can find it in a wild pantheon of flavors (my favorite here in Thailand is Nori Seaweed).
Being able to fit in with a local culture (be it a corporate culture, a culture based on shared beliefs or a culture partitioned by national borders) is not selling out or giving in to outside forces, but rather bending so that people from different backgrounds with different tastes can still take in and appreciate the fundamental principles of whatever good, service, or idea you happen to be selling.
Frito-Lay (the parent company of Lay’s) could have said ‘screw this, Sour Cream n’ Onion is where it’s at, and if they don’t like it, they don’t deserve to eat our delicious chips,’ but instead they said ‘well, they don’t seem to like the same old American fare, so let’s put some seaweed on it and see where that gets us.’
Because of this willingness to adapt and evolve based on outside preferences and ideas, Lay’s are frickin’ everywhere in Thailand, and many more Thai people are eating their chips.
Consider your brand for a moment: is it solid enough to hold its own, but malleable enough to adapt to new environments? Are you able to keep you key values intact while being open to change?
If not, why?
Update: January 26, 2017
Another great flavor found throughout Southeast Asia: Chili Squid.