Extend your reach

Chuck Kapelke

Key insights

  • Maintain your brand's core value across regions.
  • Be sensitive to regional regulations and privacy standards.
  • In creative content, use simple humor that transcends cultures.
  • Don't rely solely on translation software.
  • Focus on social media.

In 1928, brand marketers at the Coca-Cola Co. lucked out when they stumbled upon a combination of Mandarin Chinese characters — k'o k'ou k'o lê — that both sound like the company's name and (more or less) convey the brand's purpose: The characters can be interpreted to read "to permit mouth to be able to rejoice." Awkward perhaps, but far better than what Chinese locals were coming up with: One shopkeeper had been marketing Coke as "female horse fastened with wax," while another was selling the drink as "bite the wax tadpole."