“Communication works for those who work at it.” – John Powell
Well-executed brand communication breeds loyalty, helps you stand out and shows audiences who you are. Fortunately, the pathways to communication have grown and expanded, and continue to do so.
Don’t let the opportunities provided by strong brand communication pass you by. This article is a comprehensive guide to improving all facets of brand communication.
What is brand communication?
Brand communication is the way in which a brand interacts with audiences through advertisements, social media and more. Whenever a customer or client reads something written by a brand, sees one of their ads or logos or speaks to their representatives, they are communicating with that brand.
All too often, we think of communication as defined by two parties having some type of dialogue. This restricts the possibilities of communication that can help a brand thrive. Instead, think of brand communication in the sense of every time your target market sees something your brand produces, you have made a connection.
Now that you have an idea of what brand communication is, let’s take a look at why it’s so important.
Benefits of strong brand communication
Everyone instinctively knows that good brand communication has many benefits, though they might not know exactly which ones. Here are some of the most important benefits, as well as a few lesser-known ones. Use these as a way to drive forward communication goals.
Builds brand loyalty
When we feel the lines of communication are open and flowing back and forth meaningfully, we’re likely to stick with that brand.
Just as a customer might inform others of their negative experience communicating with a brand, they’ll do so when they have a positive experience as well. This is invaluable, since it will likely result in more brand loyalty, and those initial customers might bring even more people along with them.
Helps a brand stand out
Just as important as communicating thoughtfully is the idea of doing something better than your competitors. Think of the potential double-benefit that comes with creating a strong commutative relationship with your customer, all while competitors in your industry fail to do so successfully.
When customers begin seeing a brand as different from its peers in terms of communication, they will also see their products and services as different. It’s much more likely that a customer will buy a product from a brand who they’ve created an emotional bond with, even if the price and quality isn’t as good as others.
Gives brands a chance to show their values
Sometimes, all it takes is a brief newsletter to have a big impact on a customer, especially if the content expresses a brand’s values and ideals. Think of all the ways a brand that is important to you has won your trust and expressed their thoughtful values in communication.
It’s not a matter of bragging, either. It’s simply a matter of transparency. Without communicating certain ideas to your audiences, how can they ever learn the ways in which your brand operates?
With these benefits in mind, let’s take a look at how to best build a powerful brand communication strategy.
Constructing a brand communication strategy
It’s easy to commit to extended brand communication. However, it’s not always easy to put this plan into action. Therefore, it’s crucial to construct some type of brand communication strategy. I’ve developed some ideas that you’ll need in order to make your strategy comprehensive and effective.
Evaluate and select the most intriguing communication platforms
Don’t let assumptions and habits restrict potential outlets for communication. Each brand is going to have different types of customers who use unique platforms.
The research you do should give you a base understanding of where you want to spend most of your communication efforts. The next part of your evaluation should be of the platform itself. Make sure that your brand is using it correctly to maximize results.
Be aware of your tone and perfect it
It’s safe to assume most brands are familiar with their audience, at least in terms of their core demographics. However, not every brand delivers the right voice or tone in their communication with audiences.
Identifying this is the first step. This applies to all types of communication on many different platforms. Once it’s clear the ways in which you want to communicate, look to sharpen your voice in this regard.
Set communication goals
It sounds a little strange to hear that we should set goals for our communication, but it’s an important part of successful branding. Goals give you a chance to visualize what’s most important and makes it easier to have a concrete idea how to achieve it.
Part of your goals should include pleasing your audience with the right types of communication, but also should outline how it can benefit the brand as well. Think of it in terms of using the conversations you’ll be having to shine the light on specific brand areas you can then improve.
Once you’ve determined your brand communication goals, come up with a few ways to measure these goals. Schedule a periodic check of different factors to ensure your goals are being met, then make adjustments as necessary.
With your strategy in place, it’s time to look at the ways we can master our communication.
Top brand communication tips
The following helpful hints will give you a foundation for communicating effectively with your audiences.
1. Encourage your audience to pass it on
It makes sense that your best pieces of communication should be seen by the most people. Make it easy for audiences to pass your content on to others. This can be done in numerous ways.
The first step to accomplish this, of course, is to create communications that are helpful, interesting and brand-relevant. Think of different types of communication in terms of a good food recipe. Even before the internet, people shared recipes with one another all the time. The more helpful, interesting and important the information, the more likely it will get shared.
Next, you’ll want to use different channels and formats for your message. If you believe most of your target market won’t want to or be able to share a certain type of file or format, opt for something that is more accessible and easier to spread around.
2. Repetition and regularity are required
It’s unlikely that reaching out only once with your audience will be effective on a large scale. It’s also unlikely that your customers and potential customers would only want a one-time communication before all conversations ceased.
There are, of course, thresholds your communication efforts can meet that sour the relationship (such as communicating too often), so look for a sweet spot that is enough to inspire and spread brand awareness but not overboard. Once this is decided upon, stick to this schedule to maximize the efficacy of your communications.
3. Be transparent at all times
During all forms of communication, the more you’re able to adhere to brand transparency, the better. Nothing derails brand communication quicker than dishonesty, disingenuity or lack of transparency.
Transparency gives customers a chance to feel like they’re a bigger part of the brand. It shows that they are trusted, and their opinion is valid and truly matters. Transparency builds loyalty, earns respect and helps customers have a better understanding of your brand.
4. Show your values and stay true to them
It’s a mistake to believe that the only chance we get to share our brand values is on our company website. Each time we communicate with our audiences is a great opportunity to offer up your main message and core values. By delivering these values in our message, we provide audiences with an understanding of what they can continue to expect from us.
Next time you’re constructing a brand element that audiences will see, keep in mind the ways in which it portrays the brand. How well are the values represented? Did you define your brand ideals when you had the chance? Begin to think about this before you communicate on all different types of platforms.
5. Make your audience’s voices heard and valued
Don’t forget the basics of all communication, which is to limit your own voice and self-elevation. It’s easy for brands to make the mistake of overdoing this, often taking up too much of a conversation or communication space to pat themselves on the back or make a sales pitch. This is fine in tiny amounts, but if it dominates the entire conversation it will be a turn-off. Instead, only talk up your brand qualities when the situation calls for it.
Also, think about the ways your communication with customers takes place. Do they make customers feel valued? Are responses they receive friendly and open, offering a chance to give their own ideas or share their own experiences? Brands that are willing to have conversations beyond an automated response are often more connected with their customers, which keeps them around for much longer.
Now that you have an idea of how to strategize and build your communication, here are some examples of brands who do it right.
Some examples to consider
The following examples show brands that communicate effectively in their own unique way.
Starbucks has always pushed the boundaries of the customer-brand relationship in a good way. They’ve made an effort to communicate openly, honestly and in a humorous way. Many of their most inspiring brand communications came on their Twitter account.
This response not only gives the brand’s followers a chance to see that they responded to a customer, but also that their in-store practice (writing on the lid) was caring and thoughtful.
Again, Starbucks shows their willingness to respond while also getting a free chance to highlight the fact their employees treat customers well.
Dove has worked to inspire a positive impact from their brand communications, particularly when dealing with self-image of customers. Their ‘Dove Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign was an example of this type of brand communication. The advertisement was a chance to truly reach out to their audience and show them their values and caring side, instead of promoting a product.
Airbnb has some of the most unique communication pieces, particularly their newsletter and magazine. The creativity, quality and helpful information provided in each is constantly praised by their subscribers, and likely leads to future use of the brand’s service by customers.
There’s no telling how far an effort to consistently provide top notch brand communication can take you. It is pretty apparent, though, that the brands willing to put themselves out there are reaping the rewards.
Think about what your next piece of communication says about your brand. Craft it until it truly says what you want and how you want the customers who read it to feel.
If you want to read more about the branding process, check out my complete branding guide.