Latin America encompasses 22 nations across Central and South America that share many cultural and economic commonalities.
And then there’s Brazil.
Geographically and organizationally, Brazil is considered part of Latin America. However, my time working in our São Paulo office has shown me how completely unique Brazil is compared to the rest of the region. Below are the key differences between Brazil and Latin America:
- Language: While the rest of Latin America speaks Spanish, Brazil is the lone country on the continent whose primary language is Portuguese. It’s a very simple yet powerful challenge for organizations looking to communicate and engage multiple markets in Latin America.
- History: Much can be said about the similarities and differences between the histories of Latin American countries. However, Brazil’s unique history – from Portuguese colony (1534-1822), to a period of independent governance with significant instability (1822-1964), to military dictatorship (1964-1985), to full democracy (1985-present) – is important to understand how much the country has evolved. Its rapid advancement in recent years has led to the way for other Latin American countries’ middle classes.
- Diversity: Brazil is an incredibly diverse country. The country is vast and geographically varied, with thousands of miles of beaches, the enormous Amazon rainforest, some of the world’s largest and most important urban centers, as well as some of the most rural parts of the world. All that said, it’s important to understand that Brazil is a cultural melting pot and the country is almost a region in and of itself.
- Global Influence: On the global stage, Brazil stands out among its Latin American peers. Among this group, it will be the first South American country to host the Summer Olympics, it is the only South American country among the BRICS emerging economies, it is the country with the largest GDP in Latin America and it is the country with the largest population.
While Brazil stands out with these differences, the other Latin American countries are emerging and diversifying in their own right. The Pacific Alliance trade bloc, comprising Columbia, Peru, Chile and Mexico, is outperforming its Atlantic-bordering neighbors. While Spanish is the common denominator, regional dialects and nuances make it harder to provide a one-size-fits-all solution, especially when it comes to social media engagement.
When considering Latin American marketing programs, it is important to consider the significant differences between Brazil and the rest of the region. All things considered, Latin America is a diverse region requiring knowledge and expertise for successful engagement.
Nick Lucido is a Daniel J. Edelman Global Fellow for Edelman working in São Paulo.