Way, way back in the pre-internet days of 1973, Thomas Watson, the former chairman and CEO of IBM coined the phrase “Good design is good business.”
It’s a concept based on the idea that good design increases the appeal of a product, even for something like computers which most people were not familiar with in the 1970s. Incorporating this idea into IBM’s business strategy catapulted its sales at the time, putting it at the front of a burgeoning industry.
Taking a cue from Thomas Watson, my premise is that good communication is good business. Sounds so simple, right? I could probably end this article here. But let’s dig a bit deeper, shall we? Communication is good business because it is an important part of what makes people want to spend time and money with brands.
If you’re like me, you may be a complex consumer, buying products and services based on a combination of factors. Price is one consideration though not always the most important. How a brand looks and feels influences my purchase decisions. Think about your last few purchases. You probably made the final selection based on branding.
The other day I bought a pint of Coolhaus ice cream that cost almost $10! Why? I read the packaging and I loved it. If it were a person, we would definitely be friends. Good communication made me part with my money, say hello to approximately 1,000,000 calories and share photos of the packaging with friends. When I parted with my hard earned $10 for a pint of ice cream that I didn't intend to buy from a brand I had never heard of, I knew this company was on to something.
Good communication and good design are good business because they are a fundamental component of brand storytelling. The brand’s story is important because it clarifies the brand’s meaning to its target market, enabling them to figure out how they feel about it, whether they think the brand aligns with their core values and ultimately, whether they spend time and money on it. It is the backbone of a strong marketing strategy.
Communication Connects to Customer Emotions.
It’s not uncommon for executives in a non-creative company, especially in senior leadership, to have a fundamental understanding of marketing and branding. They know that it’s a critical part of increasing market visibility and top of mind awareness to drive sales and engagement. In some cases, there is a deeper level of understanding about the importance of branding and design as part of the visual communication throughout the physical and digital presence of the organization.
In my experience there is often one piece of this puzzle missing - the written and verbal communication. How many times have you seen a company invest in a marketing tools like a logo but less so in a strategy for how they communicate who they are or what their brand is about?
In some instances, this communication isn’t even consistent across all of the ways that they communicate with their customers. It is the consistency between the visual, written and verbal communication across the website, social media, print material and real-time platforms that reinforce the brand’s story.
A marketing communication strategy is how the visual, written and verbal components of the brand’s story come together and support the company’s marketing activities. Strategic communication is important because it supports strong branding and ultimately, drives the perception of the customer experience. How? Communication is an inherent part of how customers and partners perceive the brand.
How and where brands communicate influences the perception of its authenticity, its quality of service and the value of its offering. In other words, the tone, language and feel of the communication creates meaning for the customer before they make a decision about whether they trust the brand, if it will live up to its promise and the product or service is worth their time and money.
What about employees?
A communication strategy can also provide guidelines for how employees communicate with partners and customers as well as each other. In order for employees to provide a customer experience that is consistent with the promise made by the brand, they must understand how to speak in a way that is consistent with the tone of the brand. The components of the communication strategy are also important to the company’s onboarding documents which provide insight to the organizational culture and set expectations about the employee experience.
Connecting the Communication Investment to Long-Term Growth
Why do companies need a communication strategy? It uses time and money more efficiently and it builds customer loyalty.
Companies that invest in communication strategies are more likely to align marketing and business development activities with what and how they communicate. In other words, in the long term, this investment enables a more effective use of time and money when it’s time to develop messaging for campaigns, day-to-day communication and in times of crisis.
The strategy starts with building the brand’s vision and narrative to tell its story and identify its core values. This becomes the foundation of the company’s messaging and informs how and where it communicates to its audiences. The audience uses communication to form a perception of the value of the brand and expectations of the engagement experience.
Building customer loyalty through strong and consistent communication has myriad long term benefits. Loyalty is key to lowering resistance to higher price points, increasing engagement and ultimately, selling with increased volume and frequency.
Companies that take a holistic, strategic approach to communication create clearer identities, enabling them to build more emotional connections with their customers, receive a better return on their marketing investment and realize a higher long term customer value. When one considers the potential for company growth and competitive differentiation in an age of increasingly demanding consumers, the value of strategic communication becomes even more apparent. LinkedIn article.