These days, brand communication is lots of things to lots of people. The term alone is synonymous with an extremely wide array of concepts and ideas that mix and mingle with one another. However, contrary to popular belief, brand communication does indeed have definitive value which few brands themselves have been able to understand and utilize to their benefit.
In this article, we will explore what “brand communication” is, and what it is not.
Let’s start with what it is.
In short, brand communication refers to the timely and relevant interactions between brands and individuals. It includes the list of tactics employed by these brands to initiate meaningful conversations. The irony is that these tactics are not used to simply convey information. Rather, they are utilized to influence the hearts and minds of the consumer, creating an emotional connection to the brand. Real brand communication creates loyalty.
Most brands ask themselves how often they should be communicating with their audience. Too much can be perceived as overload and obnoxious. Too little and a brand becomes out of sight, out of mind.
It is believed that consumer need as many as eight individual touchpoints before a brand is recognized in the mind of the consumer. These touchpoints need to be subtle, yet obvious – frequent, yet occasional. Finding the appropriate balance is crucial to achieving influence.
Even following an organized schedule of at least eight touchpoints can be rendered useless unless the brand ensures that the messages are relevant and valuable to the end-user. Messages can be educational, humorous, likeable, and story-based in order to affectively convey the correct idea.
Consumers want to be educated. They want to be empowered with knowledge to make decisions for themselves, and it is a brand’s responsibility to deliver that knowledge in a creative and memorable way.
Any consumer loves a good story. Effective stories include the consumer as the hero. The brand only assumes the role of the “helper” or the guiding light to the hero’s success. Brand communication put the brand in the position to support the consumer in his or her journey – and like the old saying goes: Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.
The possibilities to deliver relevant communication is nearly endless, as brands have many avenues to communicate. Any of the following touchpoint tactics can be used to seek influence:
- Digital advertisements
- Social media
- Brand logos
- TV advertisements
- Radio advertisements
- Business cards
- Public Relations
- Company blogs
- Free downloads
Any of these tactics can be used to meet the consumer where they are – on mobile, on desktop, in their car, or watching a football game. Relevant messages are delivered in a combination of channels that touch consumer on the natural path of their journey. They may seem conveniently placed to the consumer but are strategically positioned by the brand.
Brand Communication Strategy
As with any strategic campaign, brand communication consists of sequential components that determine success and outcome.
The first decision brands will make is to determine to whom they are speaking. If you don’t know your demographic audience, then not much of what you say will influence. You would not speak to a college student the same way you would to a middle-aged male with three kids and a million-dollar mortgage. While the tactics themselves may be the exact same, the message will be vastly different. These people, the receivers of the communications, in these two examples come from two completely difference backgrounds of experience and will have different areas of perspective, concern and priority.
Next comes a brand’s value proposition. Brands must determine which features and benefits set them apart from the competition. To do this, they have most likely identified previous pain points experienced by the consumer when interacting with similar products or services. There must always be a reason why a consumer would choose one brand over another – price, speed, additional features, customer service, warranties, variety, proximity, delivery, return policy, etc. These determinations also shape the message
Once brands set themselves apart, they determine on which channels to communicate, and this decision will be based on understanding the consumer. Where do you speak to a college student in the year 2022? Where do you speak to a middle-aged male with three kids and a million-dollar mortgage? Maybe it’s same. Maybe it’s slightly different. Both may have accounts on Twitter, Tik-Tok and Instagram. Only one of those may tune in to talk radio in the afternoon.
An old boss of mine used to say, “If you do not measure it, you cannot improve it.” Thus, establishing metrics of success is absolutely vital in determining if the campaign is effective or not. Metrics are highlighted by the desired, solicited response from the consumer, which include number of downloads, purchase volume, revenue, video views, social shares, media impressions, website traffic, consumer review sentiment, sales or coupon redemption, and repeat engagement. These performance indicators are matched with the amount of budget, time, and resources a brand allocates to a given campaign to ensure that money is being used efficiently.
The most important thing to remember during any stage of the campaign is that you do not have ultimate control of your brand in the minds of the consumer. They do! It is the consumer that determines, based off their experience, the brand equity that they will allow to exist in their heart and mind.
Brand equity takes years of hard work, honesty, accountability, quality deliverables, feedback, communication, and innovation. Once in place, you have a brand that can influence human behavior. There is no shortcut to this process. The brands that communicate with individuals with feelings and opinions will be those that succeed in the long term through all changing landscapes.