2.1.8 Brand communication
Marketing communication is an important tool by which organizations inform, teach, persuade and remind stakeholders about their activities, added value and brands. Hence marketing communication can establish a dialogue and strengthen the relationship with and among stakeholders. Marketing communication is the voice of the brand (Keller, 2007:230).
Communicating brand values to stakeholders is a core activity of brand management. In general communicating to stakeholders starts with communicating to the brand ambassadors: the employees of the organization. By understanding the brand values employees can start a word of mouth epidemic of positive incentives and spread the brand message to differentiate the brand within the playing field (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:129). The importance and power of communication is given by the fact that communication can reveal the brand’s tangible and intangible meaning rather then focusing on visible product commodities. That’s why brands are not jeopardized by offering products on oligopolistic markets (Kapferer, 2007:194).
Marketing communication contributes meaningful to enhance brand equity which is in essence determined by brand experience and brand knowledge created in the mind of stakeholders. Brand managers and marketers need to evaluate marketing communication options strategically to determine how they can contribute to brand equity. Keller has formed a short list of eight general marketing guidelines (Keller, 2007:272-273);
- Be analytical
- Communication programs should have a conceptual framework, based on theoretical and managerial guidelines.
- Be curious
- Communication based on curiosity, triggers the marketer to look for new customer insights and high level of customer understanding.
- Be single-minded
- Dedicated/custom communication to a specific target group will enhance the communication effectiveness.
- Be integrative
- Integrated and balanced communication across all communication interfaces usses all communication tools in a consistent manner.
- Be creative
- Communicate creative, using unique exposure techniques to create beneficial, strong, unique and sustainable brand associations.
- Be observant
- Maintain market and stakeholder knowledge on high level through monitoring and research.
- Be patient
- Building a strong brand and brand equity is investing in future returns, hence effective communication request patience and a long term view.
- Be realistic
- Marketing communication is a complex process and has several interdependent direct and indirect determinant factors. Marketing communication objectives should be specific and realistic (SMART) to avoid too much deviation.
Kotler and Pfoertsch approaches brand communication from a holistic paradigm to encounter the complex B2B interactions and construct a branding triangle. They segregate the communication environment into four groups; (1) collaborators, (2) company, (3) customers, and (4) general public. The interdependencies are captured and visualized in the branding triangle. Next to that they associate the group intersection towards different marketing perspectives; (1) internal marketing, (2) external marketing, and (3) interactive marketing. See right triangle in figure 24 (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:107-109).
Figure 24. Communication tools, interface & triangle (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:109).
Complementary on the branding triangle Kotler and Pfoertsch subdivide corporate brand strategy in three communication area’s using it as a general communication tool (see left side figure 24); (1) corporate communication, (2) marketing communication, and (3) dialogue communication. The tools and interface can easily be addressed to the branding triangle as shown in figure 26. Hence Kotler and Pfoertsch argue that efficient brand communication strategy is based on the foundation and principles of the branding triangle with a strong consistency across all managerial communication area’s (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:109-110).