Published on 7th January in The Financial Express 

To read the article as feature on The Financial Express, please click the link below.

We live in a massively over-communicated world. Industry figures state that a person can view between 6,000 to 10,000 ads a day on average. These may be splashed across multiple media such as television, radio, social media, billboards, website pop-ups, SMSs, emails, messaging platforms… The list is quite exhaustive. Therefore, integrating your brand communication to ensure efficiency and effectiveness is critical to make you stand out from the crowd.

Here is a checklist that I recommend to my clients.

  1. Creative consistency is key

    Pick any popular story and it is sure to have multiple versions. Yet, the core elements of the story are always the same. Brand communication is just that. Irrespective of the media via which you advertise, ensure that the creative design and execution are consistent. This means maintaining the same voice, emotion and visuality of the brand across every communication across channels.
  2. Target segment-based unique value propositions 

In B2C, you need to segment your markets using demographics (age, gender, income, geography, socioeconomics etc.) and psychographics (attitudes, aspiration, values, interests, etc). You then need to select an attractive target segment that can benefit from your product or service. In B2B, focus on industry segments where you can specialise and target key decision-makers in these organisations.

Once you determine your target segment, develop a deep understanding about their needs and wants, and establish a unique value proposition that clearly articulates why they should select you over alternative product/service offerings. For instance, there may be an aisle of toothpaste, but there are unique ones for sensitive gums or specific ingredients such as clove oil or salt. There are unique flavours for children’s toothpaste, herbal alternatives and even non-fluoride ones. Hence, it is extremely critical that an organisation determine its unique value proposition and infuse that into all its brand communication.

  1. Use a range of communication media

Utilise a range of media so that every medium of brand communication feeds off another. For instance, television and radio ads are generally focused on brand communication which caters even to that cohort of the target market that may not be able to read the language of the written communication. While television ads have a strong audio-visual appeal, radio ads are more economical in terms of ROI and have a wider outreach. Outdoor advertising and signage allow you to target geo-demographically. Finally, create engaging and interactive online advertisements.

So far, we have covered brand communication elements.  However, none of the above three initiatives will work unless you integrate two critical components that need to be integrated into the fabric of your organisation. This is based on the Total Engagement Model® that I created, which provides a 360-degree brand strategy. It ensures that a brand absolutely delivers on what is promised in the brand communication and is supported by the right internal culture. Let me explain this via the next two initiatives.

  1. Brand promises should be met 

Your brand may have the best integrated communication. You may be there all over the place, reaching the right target market. But does your product or service truly deliver what is promised in the brand communication?

If your brand communicates a lot but does not deliver, it will severely damage your brand via negative word of mouth and negative reviews. Monitoring your touchpoints, product and service via strategic surveys to ensure brand expectations are met is the best way to ensure this.

  1. Brand-consistent experience and culture

You cannot have engaged customers without engaging your staff first. After all, your staff are the ones that deliver experiences and propositions that meet your brand promises or exceed them. Staff are the human representation of your brand – like a living, breathing advertisement for you.

The bridge between staff and your customers is emotion. Make sure your staff feel valued, cared for and supported, and they will make sure your customers feel the same way. Develop a clear line of sight so all staff know the part they play in delivering your brand promise. In addition, ensure you involve them in the creation of great experiences and propositions. Remember the old adage – ‘without involvement there is no commitment’.

When these last two initiatives are in place, you can be assured that what you say and deliver are in absolute synchronisation with your internal culture, helping you stand out in a sea of sameness and become a powerful brand.

Bonus Initiative – Talkability Factor 

It is one thing to communicate the benefits of your brand, products and services, but have you considered upping the talkability factor? Word of mouth is the most effective and trusted sales and marketing channel. Provide your customers with a reason to recommend you to others via the delivery of great experiences, products and the delivery of your unique value proposition. Finally, create unique and authentic stories about your brand that people can share with others.

The author is the managing director, engaged strategy, and creator of Total Engagement Model