How Ethnic Brands Achieve Mass Appeal

March 4, 2011  |  

(Entrepreneur) — When Naddia Hubbi was getting ready to open a Syrian desserts company, branding experts advised her to market the treats as “Mediterranean” rather than “Middle Eastern.” Their reasoning, she says, was that it would be a safer, less-polarizing and more recognizable option.  Despite the advice, Hubbi followed her instincts and went with the Middle Eastern concept. Her company, Sweet Pillar and Co., found a national distributor within three months of opening and broke into major natural-foods grocery chains on the West Coast due in part to its unique niche.

“You have to create your own path, by being true to who you are, because that’s going to make you unique,” say Hubbi, whose Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company uses her grandmother’s Syrian recipes.  But appealing to a broad customer base can be difficult for some small businesses that are grounded in a distinct cultural brand and don’t want to water down their image. Brands that successfully navigate the tightrope largely don’t stray far from their core identity, says Chris Klaehn, director of brand strategy at Corey McPherson Nash, a branding and design firm based in Watertown, Mass.

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