28 March 2006

cultural differences with brands

I've been thinking about Asia for as long as I can remember. It could partially be because I have never met my Japanese relatives in Nagasaki (I am 1/8 Japanese). It could also be because my mother was born in Shanghai and hasn't been back since the age of 3, and constantly longs to go back. I saw the Shanghai skyline in an ad in an airport once, and it was beautiful.

My biggest longing is to go to Tokyo, though. When I was a little girl, my grandmother showed me a movie called Tokyo Pop. It had Carol Burnett's daughter in it. It was the cutest movie. I have never tired of cartoons. I have toys all over my apartment. My favorite concert of 2005 was Puffy Ami Yumi. I was Super Milk-Chan for Halloween last year. My home page on Safari is Tokyo street fashion photography. pinepinepine.

I've sometimes had slight thoughts of going to Tokyo for my first job in planning.

This was when I was still too idealistic, I think. I don't think it would be smart now to start out studying cultures in a place where the culture is so foreign to me. I should get the knack of "planning in the real world" first, I think.

One of my favorite parts about planning is the relationships that people have with brands, and the personalities that they often attribute to brands (I loved archetypally branding The Gap last year, loved The Hero With A Thousand Faces, etc.).

I found out a couple of nights ago that people in Eastern cultures may not even see brands in this way. I read the Cultural Differences in Brand Appeal paper on brandchannel... they used Hello Kitty as an example for most of it, since both East and West is very familiar with her. Here, apparently, people see her as representing friendship, community, happiness. Apparently in Japan (for example), brands aren't thought of in terms of personalities at all. Hello Kitty is very prominent because of the importance that is placed on conformity, since Eastern cultures are more collectivist. bummer! Another reseacher in the article, however, disagrees a little - she says that in outward situations, Easter cultures can be like this and see brands in this way, but in their own personal lives - "in terms of the private sphere, Japanese highly value ideals around freedom, self-expression, and uniqueness—things they have difficulty expressing in work and educational structures."

A lot to swallow. fascinating, but maybe I should stick with ...not going farther than, say, Europe when I first start out ^.^
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