By Sophy Edmonds.
Effective brand communications employ both creativity and strategy to build and maintain the strong perceptions that attract your target audience and grow your business. Essentially, consistent, integrated brand communications set your organisation apart. What you communicate represents your organisation’s distinctive position in the minds of customers.
The first step – arguably the most important – is to have a clearly defined brand positioning strategy. In my last post “How to position your brand for success”, I outlined the importance of the following:
- market research to understand your customers’ needs and how they perceive you and your team members;
- understanding the essential benefits of your business and defining how you will provide value to your chosen market;
- developing a strong vision statement that states what you want your organisation to achieve over time – this clear strategic focus guides and inspires your team.
If you have undertaken the necessary preparation to define your brand positioning strategy, you will have a strong foundation. From here, you can develop and deliver a focused communications campaign.
Here are three key principles to guide your approach to ongoing brand communications activities.
1. Use communications activities to reinforce your brand benefits.
Define what you will do to communicate with your audience. Your communications activities may employ a select group of focused channels, or they may be far- and wide-reaching. Common activities include events, advertising, content marketing, newsletters, social media, promotions, direct mail and media relations.
Case study example
We supported a client positioning itself as a leading industry professional services firm. We wanted to demonstrate their knowledge and thought leadership. In addition to digital communications, direct mail and advertising, we developed a media relations campaign with a strong, well-researched news hook. The news hook was based on anecdotal evidence that target consumers seek out help at a particular time of year.
By providing support via a free helpline, they aimed to spread awareness of this issue while simultaneously positioning themselves as a credible source of knowledge and advice. In addition to approaching local services, we targeted local and professional media and offered spokespeople to be interviewed by radio. We also provided commentary and photography for print media. Short interviews and media statements helped to profile their partners as industry thought leaders.
2. Communication materials should engage the attention of your core audience.
Consider your communication materials from your audience’s viewpoint. They should serve to quickly attract attention, but also reflect your brand in a positive and professional light. Your logo and headline must be prominent and designed to drive maximum interest – but not at the expense of engaging design and a well-considered tone.
Think about the overall look and feel you want to convey. Test your end result by seeking feedback from people in your audience’s situation. Keep in mind: if you aim to position your organisation as trustworthy and credible, then your communication materials must reflect that. Your target audiences will respond to materials that look professional and are based on fact.
Professional photography is a valuable tool in engaging with your target audience. To create a unique image and demonstrate your authenticity, invest in your own photo-shoot. But make sure you develop a clear brief so that the photographer can tell your story and demonstrate who you are.
Case study example
Many corporate and healthcare firms use blue in their creative design as this conveys trust and is universally liked. We developed a suite of communications materials including logo, stationery, website and brochures for a health services business. We wanted them to stand apart and not appear too clinical. Certain shades of green also convey health and healing and are calming on the eye. So we developed a suite of materials in this colour.
3. Consistently integrate the same key messages into your communications.
You can have the best creative in the world, but if you don’t understand who you are communicating with and what their drivers are, then your efforts will not translate into the action clients most commonly seek: sales uplift.
Ensure you have a summary collection of key messages that you use consistently to guide content development from content marketing to event topics. Once you know what your message is, your communications campaigns will remind your audience of your brand’s key benefits again and again.
Case study example
As a strategic marketing consultancy, we often work with clients who employ creative communications services. They may undertake a range of communications activities. But if they don’t have a clear idea of their identity and their key beneficial offering, then there is inconsistency in their communications. This results in a weakened call to action and, in turn, under-performing outcomes.
If you’re taking the time to invest in communications, be sure to optimise what you do to deliver a focused campaign.
For more links on Positioning: