Communication is a versatile term that is widely used in various areas of activity. It is used in psychology, social sciences, military affairs, etc. In each area in this word has a slightly different meaning. But in a general sense, it means communication, information exchange, interaction. When a person hears an advertisement for your product, this is communication. If user talks about a product to friends, this is communication. When customer interacts with a product, this is also communication.
Attracting the attention of the consumer, building relationships with him, bringing him to a purchase is the main task of every company, regardless of the direction of activity and scale. And a competent brand communication strategy helps in its solution.
Goals and objectives of the brand communication strategy
The main objective of a communication strategy is to inform customers and build long-term relationships with them. Ultimately, this helps to increase sales and, as a result, profits. Isn’t that the goal of your company?
To solve the main task, it is necessary to perform several intermediate actions, let’s call them subtasks:
- providing the target audience with information about the product;
- familiarity with the product or service;
- incentive to make a purchase;
- formation of a positive attitude towards the product and the company.
The Structure of a Brand Communications Strategy
In its finished form, a brand communication strategy is a roadmap or a detailed guide that describes each step towards the goal. In general, its structure includes the following components:
1. Assessment of the current situation
To develop in any direction, you need a starting point. Without it, it is impossible to understand where to go, what to do, how things are progressing and whether they are moving at all. To assess the current situation, internal and external analysis is carried out. The first one provides reliable information about the state of affairs of the company, about the strengths of the brand and its disadvantages. The second allows you to evaluate competitors, as well as the whole market (volume, the impact of innovative technologies, the actions of competitors, consumer preferences).
2. Correct formation of goals
When developing a communication strategy for a company, it is very important to understand why you are doing this – for example, to attract new customers, increase the average check or increase profits. It is important to note that the goal must be correctly formulated. “Increasing sales” is not the goal. “Increase sales by 24.5% by July 1, 2022” is the goal.
Goals are formed for the three main directions of the brand communications strategy – marketing, creative, media. Each block solves certain tasks:
- The marketing direction is responsible for formulating a unique selling proposition (USP), conveying key values to the consumer, forming a loyal attitude towards the brand, and distancing from competitors.
- The tasks of the creative direction include: creating communication messages, developing emotional elements, visualizing the image of a brand or product, including creating a corporate identity, packaging design, brand book.
- The media block of the brand communication plan is responsible for solving such tasks as: determining the most effective channels for interacting with the target audience, developing the main stages of promotion, building a positive brand image, receiving and processing feedback.
3. Definition and segmentation of the target audience, character creation
To people far from marketing, it may seem that it is better to reach as many potential buyers as possible. In practice, such a decision leads to a senseless “drain” of money. No product or service is right for every person. That is why it is necessary to single out potential consumers from the entire mass of buyers. But that’s not all! Next, you should segment the target audience and create a portrait (avatar) of the buyer.
Imagine a company that manufactures children’s bicycles. In a general sense, the target audience for will be young parents. That is, men and women 25-40 years old. But this is in general. And we need to be specific. To do this, we divide all potential buyers into segments. For example, men, women living in the capital, having one child, leading an active lifestyle, etc. The number of segments is unlimited. And they will definitely intersect with each other. Your task is to choose the most promising of them.
Next, you need to imagine the ideal buyer in as much detail as possible and visualize it. Of course, the avatar is a collective image. But despite this, it should be as detailed as possible. Describe how you see your ideal buyer. How old is he, what is his income level, where does he work, what does he do in his free time, what does he like and dislike? In the future, when implementing a communication strategy in practice, you will turn not to an abstract target audience, but to an avatar.
And yes! If two or more key segments were selected during segmentation, then an avatar must be created for each of them.
4. Determination of the budget
To implement a communication strategy, money is needed. But this does not mean that unsystematic and constant infusions will be required. To prevent promotion from turning into a black hole, it is necessary to calculate in advance how much a company can spend on communications with consumers. There are many ways to set a budget. Most often, the following methods are used: fixed, percentage of sales, balance calculation, competitive parity, equality of shares.
5. Drawing up a brand communications plan
Let’s move from strategy to tactics. We define the main tools and channels for interacting with consumers. The arsenal of tools for implementing the brand’s communication strategy is truly huge. In addition to expensive advertising on television, which not every company can afford, you can use:
- viral marketing, street billboard promotion, email newsletters and other tools that are commonly referred to as mass reach advertising;
- personalized mailing in social networks, promotions, discounts, tastings, coupons, distribution of leaflets, POS materials, ambassadors, incentives for sellers – in general, everything that is called individual offers in marketing;
- a combination of mass advertising and individual offers, for example, SEO promotion, event marketing, PR (public relations), brand visualization elements, charity and much, much more.
So, first you need to choose the most effective tools, and then draw up a media plan that describes in detail the means of promotion, the schedule for the release of communication messages, etc.
6. Evaluation of the effectiveness of brand communications
KPI (Key Performance Indicators) is an essential element of a communication strategy. They help to assess how the real result corresponds to the expected one, which means that they provide an opportunity to adjust plans if necessary.
Most often, the following indicators are chosen to evaluate the effectiveness of a brand communications strategy:
- Awareness of a product or company. This indicator helps to understand how well known the brand is to consumers. Does the target audience know it, does it find out on the shelf, does the product stand out among the products of other manufacturers? As a rule, awareness is assessed at three levels: “recognition with a hint”, “recognition without a hint”, “recognition by any element”.
- Perception of the product or company. The main assessments of perception are considered to be: positive, neutral and negative attitude. In essence, this is an assessment of customer satisfaction after interacting with the brand. This indicator allows you to understand how the target audience perceives the product and how its perception corresponds to the brand positioning strategy.
- Buyer actions. Have the activities carried out as part of the communication strategy led to the desired result? To answer this question, it is necessary not only to keep a record of all communications, but also to form feedback. In the future, this will help you choose the most effective advertising tool and make it possible to distribute your budget wisely.
In addition to the above indicators, others can be used. For example, a brand’s communication strategy can be measured by audience reach, frequency of interaction with consumers, and so on. But the most important KPI is, of course, the change in sales and profits.