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The Importance of Marketing Communications and Branding
Modern day marketing can take many forms; from traditional newspaper ad’s right through to modern, targeted social media ad’s and just about everything in between. Marketing and Marketing communications are often separated as into two different areas of activity (especially through education) and for this reason, it can be quite easy to forget that all marketing is in fact a form of communication. In fact, marketing is quintessentially by nature, communication.
Because of this, getting your communication right is of paramount importance. This is not as easy as it used to be though; the digital age has bought marketers countless new ways to communicate with their target audience, the only problem being that it’s impossible to reach them all in the same place.
One thing that cannot be stressed enough is that marketing communications must be integrated; the result of doing this is a single brand message across all marketing channels. To do this, all elements of a business must be working together as a unified force rather than many individual sectors.
It used to be the case that mass media was more or less the only way to go in regards to communication, but nowadays people want information instantly, in a location that is convenient to them. For this reason, it is important that as a company you cover as many of these communication ‘touch points’ as possible.
The first thing to consider in relation to your marketing communications is the need of the stakeholder. This is important because wherever possible you need to tailor your communications to the needs of the particular stakeholder that you are targeting.
The second thing to remember that it is essential to have a plan. Without a plan, integrated marketing communications are near enough pointless as there would be no aims or objectives and the message being delivered may be damaging, contradictive or be pulling consumers in different directions.
If you are worried that your marketing communications may be ineffective, that you are missing a major communications channel or you just want some reassurance, it can be beneficial to undertake a communications audit. Communications audits are designed to pinpoint gaps in your comm’s strategy. Once these gaps are highlighted, they are much easier to address and can:
- Help your business’ marketing strategy become more effective
- Gain a better strategic position within the marketplace
- Boost revenue.
A communications audit can be performed in house, but where possible it is recommended that the task be outsourced to a specialist agency to ensure that the review is unbiased and that all communications gaps are spotted.
The topic of Marketing Communications is broad and detailed. This article is meant as a brief overview and is not intended to offer a detailed account into separate communications channels.
One of the most important aspects of marketing communications is branding. Branding has never been as important as it is right now. Done successfully, it can give your company a competitive advantage over others in the market and really launch your company to the next level; on the other hand, poor branding can see your company fall into obscurity just as quickly.
A well thought out, well defined corporate identity has the ability to boost sales, increase brand loyalty and most importantly, it can act as a catalyst for business growth.
With the UK economy as it is, companies are fighting hard for the public’s hard-earned cash and branding is more important than ever.
When you mention branding, people automatically think that it refers simply to the logo, sign, name or image that consumers associate with your company and product. This is true; branding certainly does cover those areas, however it also incorporates things such as perceived product quality, perceived quality of the business as a whole, unique characteristics of the business and its products and factors that distinguish the company and its products from others.
Branding is important whatever the size of the business, however, it is arguably especially important for small business. Consumers are likely to be more willing to buy from a company that they know and trust. A strong, well-defined brand allows you to charge more for your product as consumers will be willing to pay more for a product from a brand that they know and trust (providing that the quality remains high)
Despite all this, it is also important to mention that branding is an on-going process – It can’t be done once and then left forevermore. The reason for this is that marketplaces change, and if your brand doesn’t change to reflect the current deep lying needs of the market then you risk being left behind. Stagnant brands will fade as tastes change – you don’t need to look very hard to find proof of this.
The above was a very quick, simple overview of the importance of branding and should not be considered as the be all and end all of the topic. However, it does raise some interesting points to mull over. A brand refresh is big step to take as a company, however - to paraphrase Pieter Willem Botha – adapt or die.
By Dan Barrowclough