Branding your Latino kissing cousin

When seeking to connect with Hispanic communities, it is important to consider the various factors that determine how Latinos view themselves and the world around them. The diversity of Latin-American cultures and nationalities, the use of Spanish language, and levels of acculturation in the U.S. are just a few of these factors. Insights based on these can resonate with Latino audiences and deliver value. This also implies that marketers should develop distinct and relevant brand messages for Hispanics. But what is a brand to do when Latino branded messages appear to be in conflict or too differentiated from the general market brand message?

Too many separate brand messages may inhibit a company’s overall brand integrity. If an individual receives one brand message from a general market campaign and different message from a targeted ethnic campaign, there is the possibility of the overall brand being perceived as confusing. The challenge then is maintaining the established brand while delivering a distinctly targeted brand message to the Latino consumer. Can this be done successfully?

One successful example, in my opinion, is the current Mayhem campaign from Allstate. Most of us have probably seen these popular television spots that feature “Mayhem,” a reckless character who represents unforeseen accidents and causes damage to cars, homes, and property. This series of ads uses humor to portray the importance of being prepared for events that can lead to major insurance claims.

Allstate has recently created a Spanish version of “Mayhem” using a different character aptly named “La Mala Suerte” (Bad Luck). The Spanish campaign continues the concept of the accident-causing antagonist of the English version, but with a distinct Latino flavor and attitude. Developed by the award-winning Latino advertising firm Lapiz, the Mala Suerte campaign was conceptualized based on the cultural insight that Hispanics typically blame fate or bad luck on accidents, not people. Understandably then, La Mala Suerte is more suave and debonair than his haphazard cousin Mayhem. Although the two campaigns are differentiated through cultural relevance, they are tied together conceptually and enhance Allstate’s overall brand message.

I affectionately refer to the example above as a “kissing cousin” marketing strategy – campaigns that are distinctly different yet belong to the same family. For marketers looking to brand their own Latino “kissing cousin”, here are some questions to consider:

  • How can your current products and services for the general market be aligned with Latino values and attitudes?
  • What commonalities exist that can be leveraged in branding to both the general and Hispanic markets?
  • How can different brand campaigns “stay in the same family” considering that multi-cultural and multi-lingual Hispanics will most likely experience both?

We know brands targeted to Latinos need to be culturally relevant and differentiated, but we also know also a company’s overall brand strategy needs to maintain consistency and integrity. This provides a unique challenge to marketers trying to reach Hispanic consumers. Do you know of any other brands that use a similar “kissing cousin” strategy?



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