Running a business is tiring. There's a lot to consider.  Compression and expansion are two points.  We see it in search engine optimization.  Technology provides the tools for international expansion; international reach is only an investment in the necessary implementations away.  But ISEO does need to address something in-America services do not - cultural differences.

The idea of expansion needs no advertisement.  Expansion is usually a reflection of a healthy flow of revenue and forward impetus.  However, could some businesses counter hopes by crossing seas?  The size, authority, and history of a brand does not immediately make them 'kind of a big deal' in other lands; brands large and small are susceptible to cultural slipups.  Consider Nike's Black and Tan mishap.

 In America, American businesses and natives don't have to consider such things as cultural differences.  Sometimes there's no way to avoid them; however, taking longer, slower necessary steps for proper cross-seas engagement seems like a sound decision.

One particularly interesting dynamic is the recent pondering of Bank of America.  It will be pretty ironic to see the brand, also known textually as BofA, practicing keener focus off American soil.  A recent WSJ article describes BofA's aggressive pursuit of international markets.  BofA's name is striking in this instance; however, an American bank's pursuit of international markets is not.

Citigroup, HSBC, and J.P. Morgan Chase also chase consumers from all countries, operating in more than 100, 80, and 60 countries respectively, while Bank of America already has presence in over 40 countries.  Along with ISEO considerations comes people networking.  Are aging directors with (possibly) little-to-no experience of other cultures the best choice to man international implementations?

While ISEO directives give brands confidence to expand overseas, companies cannot dismiss the people aspect of successfully residing in other lands.   BofA plans to organize a 'global advisory board,' borrowing the idea from another world-renowned bank, Citigroup.  An advisory board seems like a great idea, especially for brands which need to satisfy investors who expect the same dividends regardless of extra factors, such as cultural differences.

Bank of America plans to assemble an advisory board comprised of individuals ranging from ages 45 to 75, who vary in backgrounds, politics, and security regulation.  Perhaps a small brand, selling products overseas does not need a full-fledged advisory board; however, can any brand considering ISEO services completely neglect the notion of proper integration?  Perhaps brands should seek some iteration of 'advisement' before seeking opportunities in other lands.

March 29, 2012

Todd Bailey is Director of Search, Media and PR with Gen3 Marketing and US Brand Ambassador for Majestic SEO. Also, Founder/Editor of


Nike's Black and Tan is a perfect example of what can happen with international expansion. Nike didn't mean any harm, but they failed to do their homework before launching the campaign. Things don't always translate smoothly from one country to another, even if it is in the same language.

Thanks a lot for the article and the link to the post about Nike's Black and Tan, this information was new to me and hence twice as interesting to read. Articles on business and marketing are always more interesting and easy to get once illustrated with an example and teach us a really good lesson.

In your article, you state that "In America, American businesses and natives don't have to consider such things as cultural differences." That's not entirely true. While there may be an overall "American" culture, there are also many, many subgroups and subcultures. These can represent huge markets, and often require radically different approaches.

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