Written by Erin Sing, Co-Founder & Director, Modern Currency
The phrase integrated communications is one that is thrown around alot but few brands do it truly well. It’s one thing to share your marketing plans with your team, but it’s another thing entirely for a multidisciplinary team to work cohesively to establish strategy and direction.
But, when this creative and cohesive work happens together, you unlock uncharted potential and start to create a truly aligned brand message for your audience.
It goes beyond just marketing.
When we think of integration we traditionally just think of marketing functions working in with PR. And that’s a great start. But that scenario should be the bare minimum for any brand these days. If you want true integration of your strategy and tactics, you need to ensure that every single touch point that reaches your consumer is aligned.
If you’re an eCommerce store for example, your website needs to be integrated in with your marketing efforts. Your customer service team needs to be aligned with your PR messages. Your social media tone of voice needs to be reflective of the same tone your CS team uses when speaking with your customers. If you’re a CEO with a forward-facing profile, your profile needs to underpin your brand’s values – you need to live and breathe it.
Why? Every single thing you do that is customer facing shapes your brand. It acts as a brand interaction with your consumer, and it has the power to build brand value, brand reputation and brand loyalty, and it also has the power to completely destroy all of those things in a heartbeat when poorly executed. This is why it’s crucial that you have an integrated approach to all external communications functions, and why it’s important to do it the right way.
Each tactic performs a different function.
Having an integrated approach doesn’t mean your objectives of individual functions change. Each function has its own objective and own role to play within the business, but essentially every function should be working towards the same common end goal.
For example, your eCommerce store has a serious need to fulfill – its objective is to facilitate sales and capture customer data, you’ve no doubt got a swag of web developers, product managers, copywriters, digital marketers, warehousing and distribution teams all working on or from your website. But, if the experience is clunky or there are too many steps before check out, then all of this hard work has gone to waste, and it doesn’t matter how fun or how quirky your team’s marketing message is, because the only thing the customer now remembers is a shitty user experience.
So, you can see why every function and every team needs to integrate to create a seamless and cohesive brand experience..
Your brand personality is more than what’s in your mission statement.
I’ve been in, and held far too many brand sessions where we talk about brand personality and the importance of it, to then only have the essence of the whole meeting form a one liner in a mission statement that no one will ever refer to or use again.
Time and time again, we see brand personality being dictated by whoever is heading up social media, or whoever is directing marketing – their own preferences, their own tone of voice and their own personality comes through in the work they do. Now, this is natural and there isn’t anything wrong with that, but this happens more predominantly when a brand doesn’t have a clear idea of their own brand personality, or this personality hasn’t been clearly communicated to every consumer-facing team.
Again, this is where integration is crucial. Each team needs to live and breathe the personality of your brand, understand the tone of voice, and drive this personality forward in each of their corresponding functions.
Beyond your four walls
This integration of mission, personality, brand values and key messages also needs to extend to all external activities. Whether you’re partnering with another brand, an event, an influencer or what have you; you need to ensure that your brand personality and brand values remain consistent. By doing this you’re ensuring that at every potential touch point to engage a new customer is reflective of the brand you are; they’re not getting a watered down version of you.
So, what happens when it all works together?
And while this all seems hard work, and maybe a little bit like it’s in the ‘too hard basket’ category, when pulled together correctly, with buy-in from all leaders and teams in your business, you’ll see significant uplift in brand recognition and advocacy.
I often say that the brands you see that look like they’re just having fun are actually some of the most well curated brands on the planet. And to achieve this seamless level of curation, requires complete integration of your entire communications touchpoints.