How to Bring Intercultural Communication Into Your Brand Message

As a global brand and business on a mission to reach a worldwide audience, it’s essential that you (and your team) know how to bring intercultural communication into your brand message. Especially as we move into a more globalized and digital world. 

Intercultural and multicultural communication skills are, after all, essential for the success of a business or brand. More so one that hopes to create a long-lasting and genuine bond with its audience – focusing on empathy, empowerment, and mutual respect.

Bringing in intercultural communication into your brand message and business communication will help you save a lot of time and resources, and – at the same time – build a global brand where diverse clientele can feel seen, heard, and supported.

So, are you wondering where to begin when it comes to incorporating intercultural communication into your business and brand message? We gotchu covered – let’s dive in!

What is intercultural communication in business?

In a few words, intercultural communication refers to the communication between people from different cultures. Beyond that, it also takes into account the behaviors and shared experiences that these two (or more people) might go through during their process of meeting, connecting, communicating, and understanding one another.

Through the power of intercultural communication, barriers are broken to bring together individuals who might not only speak different languages but who might also belong to different:

  • Socioeconomic statuses
  • Religious upbringings
  • Educational backgrounds
  • And other intrinsic factors that impact how they see themselves, others, and the situations around them

At the end of the day, when intercultural communication takes place, people have the opportunity to create a shared meaning so everyone involved can be on the same page.

READ MORE: 4 Tips for Being Culturally Aware With Your Brand Message

Most importantly, though, intercultural communication in business isn’t about complete assimilation. On the contrary, the idea is to create an environment in which two or more cultures can cohabitate with one another in spite of any differences, language barriers, or other nuances that might come into play. Only then will multiculturalism have the opportunity to thrive successfully and under the basis of mutual understanding and empathy.

Preconceived notions that stand in the way of intercultural communication in business

The first step in learning how to properly approach intercultural communication in business is to understand that there are certain barriers that stand in the way of implementing the concept in its entirety.

A few of these include:

  • Biased assumptions about how people will behave/react to something, based on one’s experiences with their culturally-identical peers
  • A socially-imposed belief that one’s culture is superior to the rest – and is therefore “the norm” (this is called “ethnocentrism”)
  • The unwillingness to adapt or conform to new situations, motivated by the fear/anxiety that comes with change and the “unknown”
  • Language barriers that slow down and complicate the process. These are usually associated to an “impatience” and a desire to speed the process up
  • Holding on to damaging stereotypes or prejudices, which dictate the way the relationship will begin (before it’s even started)
  • The inability to read someone’s body language in relation to their culture and how their nonverbal communication might mean something different that one is accustomed to

In order to ensure that brands are successful when it comes to incorporating intercultural communication into their business, it’s important to – first of all – be aware of these. Secondly, to actively work against them (a process that takes tons of unlearning and cannot be rushed!).

READ MORE: How to Create & Maintain an Effective Client Communication Cycle

4 ways to bring incorporate intercultural communication into your business & brand message  

Now that we’re on the same page about the meaning of intercultural communication and how it applies to business and brand growth, let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite ways to take action.

When it comes to including intercultural communication in your business plan and brand message, these are 4 of our favorite ways to do so 👇

1. Define your core values…

When creating a brand message, one of the most important things you need to do is define your brand’s core values.

However, it’s important to be clear about what those values mean. Oftentimes, we see brands and organizations share their core values and leave it up to their clients to interpret the meanings on their own. In a global and digital world, values are defined, interpreted, and mean something different based on someone’s culture. 

For example, if one of your brand’s core values is “Dependability”, it’s important to fully define what it means to be dependable in this specific context so everyone involved understands HOW you expect someone to be “dependable” and they know WHAT to do. 

PRO TIP: It’s important to look beyond your own experience and understanding of a word to take into account other ways someone understands that word.

2. …and write them in “-ing” format

While you’re at it, you can also consider writing your core values in “-ing” format instead of simply listing them out! We like to call these “embodied” core values!

So, instead of simply listing out your values as:

  • Integrity
  • Positivity
  • Honesty
  • Etc.

You can go a step further by expanding their meaning and personalizing them:

  • Living in integrity
  • Teaching through positivity
  • Advocating with honesty
  • Etc.

This will help your audience and potential clients understand what you and your brand are about and will leave little to no room for misguided interpretations or confusion.  

3. Research, ask, and listen

When it comes to intercultural communication in business, one of the most important things you can do is…RESEARCH! Take the time to understand the nuances of both your culture and the different cultures you might be engaging with, and don’t leave things to “chance” or “assumptions”.

If you have the means, you can also reach out to your audience and – if they’re willing to do so – ask them for additional guidance. Expressing interest in wanting to learn more about someone’s culture is a great way to start bridging the gap between the two of you, and it helps to create a shift in any preconceived notions that either of you might have.

PRO TIP: When it comes to learning more about your audience, we’re all for asking questions if you’re unsure of something, but don’t simply expect them to be prepped and ready to educate you. That’s not their job, after all.

By researching, asking, and learning from what you’re told, you’ll have the opportunity to create a strong base to help you nail your brand message through inclusivity, cultural competence, and a global view.

4. Be prepared to admit your mistakes

Here’s the thing: no matter how put together everyone might seem…no one is perfect and no one has all the answers.

In the words of Hannah Montana: “Everybody makes mistakes!”

Real strength doesn’t lie in not making mistakes. It’s in how quickly you admit that you’ve made them – and how you learn and grow from the situation at hand.

READ MORE: How Developing a Brand Voice Can Help Your Business Succeed

It’s likely that, in your quest to learn more about intercultural communication, you might run  into a slip-up here and there:

  • Maybe you use a word/phrase that someone who speaks a different language finds offensive (or, hey…maybe they find it funny!)
  • Or maybe your body language is misconstrued by someone who was raised in a different religious environment

These incidents can make for moments of miscommunication, but don’t let them stop you from building a more inclusive and culturally competent business and marketing strategy. Understand that you made a mistake, learn how you can do it differently next time, and work on improving from thereon.

TL;DR: The lowdown on intercultural communication in business

The world today is more connected than ever – and it’s time that brands accept this and open themselves up to an influx of global audiences who might be looking for what they have to offer 👀

And, while cultural differences might seem like a giant boulder to overcome, there are small steps that you can take to help you find your footing and become more multicultural and inclusive.

writer sitting on their bed with their laptop open and surrounded by books

When it comes to including intercultural communication in your business and brand message, here are four tips we suggest to help you get started:
1. Define your core values…
2. …and write them in “-ing” format
3. Research, ask, and listen
4. Be prepared to admit your mistakes

Once you’ve done this, you can continue to push forward in terms of other essential things like content and direct client relations!

Have you worked towards including more aspects of intercultural communication into your business? How did you get started and where are you now with the process?

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