The Risks of Poor Branding in the Middle East

Branding has become a crucial component of success in today's competitive corporate market. A strong brand identity may assist organizations in developing trust, increasing client loyalty, and distinguishing themselves from competition. When branding goes awry, however, the ramifications may be serious, particularly in the Middle East, where cultural norms, language, and religion all play a key role in molding consumer behavior.

Examples of Branding Gone Wrong in the Middle East

In the Middle East, there have been countless cases of branding gone wrong, illustrating the hazards involved with poor branding decisions. For example, Pepsi encountered controversy in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations in 2017 following a commercial starring Kendall Jenner. Many people saw the advertisement as tone-deaf and disrespectful, prompting significant condemnation and demands for a boycott of the business.

Similarly, in 2020, a Dubai-based delivery service endured criticism for its logo, which many customers found racist and unpleasant. The company's logo featured an exaggerated cartoon figure with a dark complexion and exaggerated features, prompting charges of cultural insensitivity and racial stereotyping.

The Importance of Cultural Sensitivity in Branding

These examples demonstrate the significance of cultural awareness in Middle Eastern branding selections. Businesses must be conscious of local cultural norms and practices, and refrain from utilizing images or content that might be perceived as insulting or inappropriate. This necessitates a thorough awareness of the local market and  careful consideration of variables such as language, religion, and social standards.

Recovering from Branding Mistakes

Even with deep planning and attention, branding mistakes can occur. When this happens, firms must respond quickly to remedy the problem and restore customer trust. This might include making modifications to branding materials, delivering a public apology, or starting a focused advertising effort to rehabilitate the brand's reputation.


To summarize, branding is a vital component of corporate success in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. When branding goes wrong, the ramifications may be serious, especially when it comes to local cultural norms and sensitivities. Businesses may avoid typical branding blunders and establish a strong, culturally responsive brand that resonates with customers and delivers long-term success by investing in research and consulting with local experts.