The art of communication

By: Megan Bissett

We are constantly surrounded by communication, yet it is still something we struggle to get right. Businesses recognise the need for effective communication in the fast moving internet age, with the annual marketing budget for UK businesses thought to be over £20 billion in 2015.  However when looking at communications in business, there tends to be a greater focus on the image we portray outwards to our customers than the one we have internally.  As a result we often overlook and underestimate the internal brand and image we portray to our employees.

When looking at a communications strategy, a company will invest a great amount into their external marketing strategy, carefully constructing the perfect image they want projected out to the wider world. This may be in the creation of a slick social media campaign, for example, to engage potential clients and future employees. However this type of time and energy is often lost in creating engaging communications for internal employees instead. This is nevertheless a flawed strategy: both the external communications approach and the internal communications approach should be central to the system. This includes communications around recruitment, social media, employees and customers.

When comparing the external brand of a company to the internal, there is often a disparity in not just the brand but incongruence between the values.  When a company has different style of brand and values for its customers compared to the style and values it has for its people, you create a disingenuous environment that can potentially impact upon your employee’s satisfaction and motivation. But it is not just impact on your employees that you should be worried about. Research suggests that there is an 85% correlation between the way your employees feel about the brand and the way your customers do. If these brands and values do not match you can ultimately create a distorted message about your brand, both externally and internally.

To ensure your message does not get distorted, starting with effective communication is key. Effective communication will not just give a unified brand and image but it will ultimately make your message ‘stick’, that is to be impactful and remembered. These messages need to be relevant, meaningful, concrete and encourage participation. The basics of creating effective, impactful communications follow the same key principles:
 
  • Why and who before how and what – think about who you are wanting to target, and why you want that target audience.
  • Story-telling – tell stories to bring meaning to your what and how. Stories are great at connecting with people, and reinforcing your message.
  • Be bold and unexpected – do something surprising and innovative, differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Get personal – create personal connections and experiences. Engage emotions, tug on the heart strings.
  • Active listening – keep listening to the market, customers, clients, employees. Understand what has stuck and why.

Each of these principles are essential for creating communications that go from being an unresponsive, disengaged brand to a personal experience, enabling empathy, emotion and clear evidence for your message. By creating this type of message you increase your chance of your customer remembering your company, what you stand for and effectively engage your employees. It helps you stand out in the already crowded market, which is often oversaturated with the same tired messages. Businesses will often go down the same channels, spending thousands if not millions of pounds expecting different results. They fail to recognise that in order to get the results they desire, a change in communication approach is needed.

By following these principles, a company increases their chances of having a clear brand and message, which is recognised by both the customer and the employee. This should ultimately make your brand stick in their minds.      

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