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Multicultural Marketing: Insight + Strategy to Help You Craft Messages That Resonate Across Cultures

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

If you help shape the words and visuals of a global brand – whether it's been around for ages or is just stepping onto the international stage – you're in the right place. In this blog, I’ll share how stakeholder insights, message testing, and a flexible framework can support your multicultural marketing efforts to successfully create and communicate your brand’s core messages to diverse audiences.

Defining Your Audience: Going Beyond "Multicultural"

Clients frequently ask me, "How do we create messages or a campaign that resonates with a multicultural audience?" It's a crucial question, no doubt. But let's pause for a moment. Before we talk strategy, let's zoom in on a critical aspect that is often put in the backseat when communicators are racing to address competing priorities within their team or in response to requests from other departments within their organization: defining the audience.

When we say "multicultural," we’re referring to a vast and vibrant spectrum of people. It's not enough to simply group everyone under a single umbrella term. Sharing a skin tone or a continent doesn't mean everyone speaks the same language. And those who share a common language use it with regional nuance.

For guidance on how to define your audience, check out this Reel.

Uncovering Your Blueprint for Authentically Resonant Messages

Once you’re clear on your audience, it's time to navigate the intricate process of crafting your messages. In these next paragraphs I won’t dictate exactly what you should write. Instead, consider this your best practices guide to source the information you'll need to shape your brand’s messages and enable your collaborators to share them authentically with diverse audiences.

A. Invest in Insight Interviews

Before you put pen to paper, consider investing time, and in some cases dollars, into interviews with partners, peers, collaborators and customers. These conversations can help you get clear on what your brand already means to different people, the complexities stakeholders experience when communicating about your brand across diverse contexts, and highlight areas where new or revised messages can bridge gaps and increase understanding of your brand’s value.

Use this roadmap to guide you through the process of planning, conducting and learning from your interviews:

B. Thoroughly Test Your Brand Messages

Once you've crafted your messages based on what you learned during insight interviews, it's time to test them.

Think of message testing like refining a new recipe before you present it to your guests. Just like a chef seeking to perfect a dish, you should test your brand messages with collaborators and audiences with different palates. Their feedback is the secret sauce that ensures your message isn't just communicated—it's understood, embraced, and felt.

C. Have Flexibility in Your Framework

Creating a framework of messages should give your collaborators the foundational elements needed to share your brand story but provide the flexibility required to communicate with audiences in a culturally relevant way.

For example, while 'nonprofit’ organization is widely used in the US, 'non-governmental’ organization (NGO) is more common outside of the US, an insight gained during a collaboration with Welcoming America.

In the US, the word 'bold' carries a positive connotation, yet in other cultures or languages, its meaning can take on a more negative tone. The key is not to provide a rigid script to be followed word-for-word, but to communicate the message's essence, allowing room for finesse where needed.

In a recent webinar hosted by Contentful, Ashley Travis, Senior Director Global Digital Growth, KFC, emphasized that as a global brand, consistency is paramount. For KFC, there is power and equity in the Colonel, the tagline, the red stripes, that cannot be lost. For its franchisees and business units, KFC provides a framework for core brand storytelling that is consistent in its tone, but that provides freedom for partners to adjust to suit their specific audiences. This balance ensures the brand speaks the language of diverse audiences while remaining true to its roots.

The Final Word

Navigating the complexities of crafting brand messages that resonate globally is an exciting challenge, and one that can be overcome with the right insights.

If you're all set to embark on this journey and want support in designing a process to collect insights, synthesize feedback or craft the final messages, I’m here for you and ready. Schedule a call with me and let’s collaborate.


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