On Brand Communication

On brand communication

Brands communicate in three main ways: Mass advertising, Promotions, and Public Relations.

The weight, in terms of budget allocation, placed on each way depends on the industry the brand competes in.

In all cases brand communication must be ruled strategically, choosing different strategies.

What is the Communication Strategy?

The Communication Strategy determines how your brand should become familiar among users of the product category.

The Communication Strategy includes two strategies:

    • Copy Strategy
    • Media Strategy

To support the main objective of communication, certain brands, mainly in mass markets, formalize also:

    • Promotion Strategy
    • Packaging Strategy

The very objective of the Communication Strategy is to make brands known to a specific group of people and win their preference.

Higher sales may follow, but selling should never be the main goal of communication.

What is the media strategy?

The Media Strategy determines how to bring the message (hence the copy) to the customer.

Its very goal is to support the marketing objective to succeed with product category users and over major competitors with comparable marketing support. For instance, by providing:

    • Larger customer reach; and/or
    • Higher purchase frequency; and/or
    • Higher brand awareness levels; and/or…

The Media Strategy is the only strategy written including executive elements, such as Brand Awareness (Unsolicited: 50%, Solicited: 85%), Advertising Pressure (Reach: 85%, Frequency: 5 Opportunities To See), and other parameters.

What is the copy strategy?

The Copy Strategy is the execution of the  Positioning Statement. It determines what to tell customers about your brand, so to win their preference.

The Copy Strategy sets a measurable objective and it is built upon three elements:

    • Benefit, or promise the brand makes to customers (f.i. [Brand X] washes clothes cleaner and whiter than any other detergent)
    • Support, or reason-why customers should believe the promise the brand makes (often linked to R&D and product formulation)
    • Tone, aka brand character, or how the brand should be perceived (f.i. Modern and progressive)

These elements are chosen before creating the Positioning Statement and as usual you must support each choice with evidence from surveys and other reliable sources.

An example of Copy Objective:

The objective of [BRAND X] copy is
to convince {MARKET} users that its
cleaning performance is superior to that of major competing brands.

What is the brand benefit?

The Benefit, or promise your brand makes, is part of the Copy Strategy. It should convince users to prefer your brand.

For instance:

[BRAND X] is a {PKT CATEGORY} which keeps today‘s clothes looking their best longer.

Strong brand benefits, aka brand promise, are:

    • Important. If customers don’t value the benefit(s) your brand offers your advertising sucks.
    • Unique and distinctive. Copycats don’t deliver.
    • Sharp, limited, and real. Brands can’t be everything to everyone. Be choosy about customers and give them what they need, even if they do not know yet they need it.

Perhaps it is the uniqueness the least easy-to-grasp element for some marketers.

Being unique means being different from all other competitors.

It means your product performs in a way competitors cannot exceed when satisfying a given user need, in our example it is: Clothes looking their best longer. But you can make a statement like this only if you can objectively measure the performance you claim, and you do so with lab tests and marketing research.

Brand communication is too important to rely on one’s gut: ask the customer to find out what’s really relevant.

But don’t expect her to tell you what she wants.

Ask instead if she likes the solution you found to her problem, and marketing research is the tool of choice.

Not all products have a benefit to offer.

Biscuits, fragrances, yogurts, alcoholic beverages, coffee, cigars, mattresses, socks, and so on, may be difficult to differentiate from competing brands according to the benefit they offer. In these cases the copy strategy should exploit its other two pivotal elements: Support to the promise and Brand character.

What is the support to the brand promise?

The Reason-why, aka Support to the Brand Promise,  helps customers believe the promise (benefit) the brand makes.

It is part of the Copy Strategy and it is linked to the brand benefit, if there is one.

The Reason-why is not always used.

When used, however, it must link to the benefit and possibly to the product too.

It should be tangible, realistic, comprehensible and visible.

The brand Support is often found in:

    • Product formulation – f.i. kind, quantity, quality, absence or presence of certain ingredients (Tide)
    • Product design – physical elements (Duck WC)
    • How the product works (Gillette razors)
    • How it is produced (Pasta Voiello)

Brands without benefit and without support can still differentiate through the Brand Character.

What is the brand character or tonality of the communication?

The Tonality, or brand character, determines how the brand should be perceived.

It doesn’t have to be directly linked to the product, and it usually arises from creativity.

The communication tone helps customers to make a subjective opinion of the brand, which in turn helps creating a brand personality.

Creating the brand personality helps to differentiate brands from competitors.

An example of brand tonality:

[BRAND X] will be perceived as a modern and progressive brand that delivers what it promises.

Hugo Boss man fragrances, for instance, became a case study in strategic marketing when P&G made them a worldwide success by creating a product personality that attracted the chosen customers.

There isn’t a product without character. Baby Shampoo Johnson is reliable and safe, Ferrari means speed and prestige, Kleenex is softness, Duracell is long-lasting.

Brands communicating for a long time take on a connotation to the eyes of customers. Therefore, it is preferable you orientate their perception, trying to create an agreeable personality, rather than letting the market do it on your behalf.

What is brand awareness?

Aware customers can mention the name of a brand.

Awareness is of two kinds:

    • Unsolicited (aka Top-of-mind). For instance, asking interviewees: Which brands of Ketchup do you know?
    • Solicited. Showing a list of brand names and asking: Which of these brands of Ketchup do you know?

Unsolicited awareness is more important, but it costs more.

The effectiveness of brand communication is typically measured surveying customers.

What is the payoff?

The Payoff is a short sentence typically placed under a brand or company name. It is most effective when it is linked to the brand.

For instance, these are strong payoffs:

Rinnai – Tankless water heaters
Lindt – Master Swiss chocolate

While these are generic, weak statement that could relate to anything and, therefore, do not contribute to characterizing the brand as a strong payoff would do:

Nissan – Innovation that excites
GE – Imagination at work

The payoff must work for you only, it links to the brand, and it says quickly and memorably what makes you different.

If you do not have a strong payoff do not use one.

What is Share Of Voice?

The Share Of Voice (SOV) measures the percentage of the communication budget a brand invests in a given market.

For instance:

All brands in a market invest $100 Mio. yearly in communication.
Your brand invests $10 Mio. a year.
Your SOV is ($10M / $100M) = 10%.

Published by Global Analytics Systems

at Global Analytics Systems