[sg_popup id=”9″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]The role Brand Communication is to change consumer behavior to help tighten the bond with consumers. The brand communications plan answers seven questions. These questions steer and inspire the creation of the brand story work, so the brand communications work will establish your brand positioning, and motivate consumers to see, think, feel, do, or influence. The plan must answer the following:
- What do we need our advertising to do? (Brand strategic objective statement)
- Who is in our desired consumer target? (Most motivated people to buy what we do)
- What are we are selling? (Our main consumer benefit we stand behind)
- Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up the main benefit)
- What is our organizing brand idea? (Brand soul, essence or DNA for the brand)
- What do want people to see, think, feel, do, or influence? (Desired consumer impact)
- Where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our message? (Media plan)
Q1: What do we need our advertising to do? (Brand strategic objective statement)
Use our Brand Love Curve to frame your strategy. In the consumer’s mind, brands sit somewhere on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Unknown to Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.
Picking a brand strategy
A brand at the Indifferent stage needs to establish itself in the consumer’s mind. Brands at the Like It stage need to separate itself from the pack and create a following. Love It stage brands need to tug at the heartstrings of those consumers who have shown some love in order to tighten the bond. Those at the Beloved stage must continue the magic and activate the most loyal followers into fans.
Here is a guideline for Brand Leaders to use in their plans with the 20 possible strategies to use.
Use this as a guideline to get you started on your plan and you may need to add specific flavoring to your situation.
Q2: Who is in our desired consumer target? (Most motivated people to buy what we do)
Brand Leaders always think about who they want, but rarely who wants them. A good way to challenge yourself is to ask: “who is the most motivated to buy what you do? You can’t sell a golf ball to people who hate golf. And, you can’t get people with hardwood floors to buy carpet cleaning.
You have to know who their customer is and who it is not. Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind. Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive–low return on investment and low return on effort. Targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first. It is actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact.
Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. And, it becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want.
Lead with Consumer Insights
To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends, and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights.
When insights are done right, they connect consumers to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story. A consumer insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.
Q3: What are we are selling? (Our main consumer benefit we stand behind)
This is where we talk benefit, and it should usually be a combination of rational and emotional. The next decision is the main benefit you want to focus on. Doing a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) helps to organize your thinking as a great tool for bringing the benefits to life.
Finding your consumer benefits
Hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:
- Get all of the consumer insights and need states out.
- Match them up against the list of the best features the brand offers.
- Then, find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over again “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask it five times and you’ll see the answers will get richer and richer each time you ask.
- Finally, find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” Ask that five times as well, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.
Some CVPs can end up very cluttered, but the more focused you can make it the easier it will be for you to choose which one you will stand behind, and which one benefit you’ll communicate.
That’s right: JUST ONE BENEFIT! Agencies use so many tricks to get it down to the ONE THING. Examples of this could be a postcard or a bumper sticker, or silly questions like “what would you say to get someone to marry you” or say in an elevator.
My favorite is to get people to stand up on a chair and “SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAIN” what your benefit is. It forces you to want to scream just ONE THING about your brand—keep it simple. You can’t scream a long sentence.
And if you are into math, another way to look at this is through a simple function, where the probability of success (P) is directly linked to the inverse of the numbers of messages (M) you have in your ad: P = 1 divided by 1 to the power of M. My guess is that if you find this last formula motivating, maybe marketing isn’t for you.
Q4: Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up the main benefit)
It seems that whenever we tell people something, they want to know more. This is where we use our Support points to back up what you say.
If we borrow from a classic logic technique below, they teach you to one conclusion and two premises. I took one logic class at University and sat there for 13 straight weeks of premise-premise conclusion. While an easy class, the lesson has stuck with me:
- All fish live in water (premise)
- Tuna are fish (premise)
- Therefore, tuna live in the water (conclusion)
In a positioning statement, the brand benefit would be the conclusion. And the Reason to Believe (RTB) would be the supporting premise.
I say this for a few reasons. First, the RTB should never be the conclusion. And, the consumer doesn’t care about what you do, until they get something from it. The benefit has to come from the consumers’ shoes. Second, if pure logic teaches two premises are enough to draw any conclusion, then you really only need two RTBs. Brands with a laundry list of RTBs are not doing their job in making a decision on what the best support points are. You either force the ad agency to decide what are the most important or the consumer to decide. By deferring, you are weakening your argument.
Q5: What is our organizing brand idea? (Brand soul, essence or DNA for the brand)
This is where we start to build the brand’s reputation. And we ask “what is the brand idea? Everyone talks about the 7-second elevator pitch, but it’s not easy to get there. I suppose you could ride up and down the elevator and try telling people. That may drive you insane. The brand iIdea (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most concise definition of the Brand. For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”.
Q6: What do want people to see, think, feel, do, or influence? (Desired consumer impact)
When people think about brand communication too many brand leaders start with what they want to say (the stimulus) but forget about what they want to be heard and what they hope the consumer does (the desired response).
Once you answer these six questions, you can then transform those answers into a creative brief that you can use with your agency. To read more about how to write a Creative Brief, follow this hyperlink: How to write a Creative Brief
Q7: Where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our message? (Media plan)
Line up your media choices to the desired response that matches up to the brand funnel.
Finally, this should set up your Brand Communication so that it can change consumer behavior to drive the brand’s bond, power and profit.
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