This post was first published in March but to round off the final week of our Branding Series, I’ve dusted it off and present it to you once again, in case you missed it first time. I feel so strongly about brand communications – such a critical part of the brand’s personality, style and promise. A brand’s messages and the way they are presented, from the language used to the choice of channels, is critical and a genuine opportunity to differentiate.
But to get it right, a brand needs to know who it is, and who its audience it – and to pitch their communications perfectly.
When you think of brands you love, trust, admire, aspire to and welcome into your daily life, what do you think of?
Most likely it’s a series of logos or visual ideas, but stay with the thought a little longer and you’ll probably find that it’s also a series of emotions (could be as mundane as feeling reassured, might be exhilarated, intelligent, cool), maybe along with tastes, smells and sights – and possibly memories too.
A logo or visual identity alone doesn’t engender these reactions – it’s about the brand promise, product and communication style that’s wrapped around it. It’s what makes that brand speak directly to me and you.
Brand communications = really important!
You probably see where I’m getting to by now: I think brand communications are really important. They’re so important that they massively influence what we do at WL. But they are often overlooked in favour of the (traditionally more sexy) design elements, brand strategy and so on.
But by spending time on your brand communications, you’re embracing an opportunity to connect with your target market on an even more meaningful level. An authentic tone of voice that suits your brand and really speaks to your audience adds an additional layer of brand personality and value. Consistent messages that reflect your brand promise add strength to the visual proposition. Adopting a lexicon in common with your audience draws them in, creates intimacy and allows you to develop a way of communicating that’s distinct, direct and genuine – especially if you adopt complimentary platforms and channels from which to communicate.
More than a logo
Consider the success of Innocent Smoothies, for example. Their cute behalo-ed icon is not the reason for their brand strength. Neither is their undeniably accessible and popular product. A large part of the appeal is in how they interact with their audience, bringing a human voice to a mass-produced product, appealing to our sense of humour, desire to belong and to generally feed good.
Take their ‘Join our family’ proposition – the concept is inclusive, the invitation is offered in a familiar and er, innocent. And that’s how they communicate. Of course we know that above all they are doing this to make money, but it appeals because it’s consistent, stylized and distinctive. Take away the visual imagery and you’d probably know who’s talking. They have also embraced web, social media and face-to-face (like their Village Fete) as channels to enhance that style of communication. The point is, you know what you’re buying into. And that has surely made diversification into snack foods (à la veg pots) an easily viable proposition. Ditto Virgin, who’ve been able to achieve a similar feat with really consistent communication styles, no matter what the product is – from music to planes to trains to cola.
B2B’s need to get in on the act
And this principle doesn’t only fly with consumer brands. I could argue that it’s equally, if not more important, in a b2b scenario. I’m not saying it’s easy, or even the same process as for consumer brands. But if you believe as I do that people do the buying and companies simply pay, the logic follows that a consistent and reliable brand message makes the buying decision a heck of a lot easier. The brand premise is reinforced by the way brand speaks to you, and reinforces the idea of a self-assured and positive brand that knows where it’s going. It’s worth some thought – ideally a lot of thought.
Here’s the free bit!
- What makes your brand different / better? If you had to distill it down to a few key words what would they be?
- Now think about your brand’s way of doing business – is it in a formal, advisory capacity, collaborative and egalitarian, strictly supply / demand?
- What particular value does your product or portfolio offer? What emotions does this value engender?
- Who is your market? How do they communicate and what is their communication style ?
- Consider what your core lexicon would be: What language can you use to convey those values, propositions and the emotions that you hope to engender?
- Now take a look at all the ways in which you communicate – from your web to social media platforms to printed matter, presentations, packaging…are they aligned?
I could talk about this for ages. But I won’t. Got you thinking, though? Call me or mail me if you want to talk about it some more!
Kate Spiers is CEO and Founder of Wisdom London, a communications consultancy specialising in communication strategy, brand communications and digital communications.