how to develop brand communication: 4 growth points in the new reality
There is a prevailing idea that in any crisis, brands should invest in development. Stagnation is equated with decline, and to simply maintain one's current position, it is necessary to constantly move forward. But what specifically should be done? Where do brands often lag behind?
It is important to understand that not only the actions we take to maintain our position are significant, but also the words we use to communicate with our audience. One person unsubscribes from a mailing list, another chooses a competitor, and a third opts for a new information stream. Brands that have established effective communication capture the attention of their audience, whether it's on social media, email, or a speaking slot at a conference. In general, the attention of the audience is the key.
In any niche, whether it's marketing, toy design, or body-oriented psychology, it is effective communication with the audience that allows businesses to maintain their positions.
McDonald’s vs IKEA
During difficult times, we notice more acutely which brands are fading away and which are advancing to the next stage. There can be many reasons for success or failure, but sometimes a simple official statement from a brand can preserve the accumulated loyalty.
For example, when McDonald's left the Russian market, it lost 17% of its loyalty among Russians, while IKEA only dropped by 1%. The reason is simple: McDonald's closed without any explanation, while IKEA officially justified its departure with supply disruptions. As a result, communication showed which brand valued the audience's opinion more, to which, of course, reciprocity is desired.
4 Key Business Goals in a Crisis
It is clear that businesses need to adapt to new conditions. But we must change not only prices and sales conditions, but also contact points: to abandon previously used tools, to change the structure of content consumption, and the form of communication with the audience.
Let's take a look at four significant communication goals in the current situation:
1. Predicting audience behavior and testing solutions. Case study: "Ochakovo".
The state of uncertainty has engulfed both companies and their audiences. Favorite brands are no longer available, channels for consuming content have changed. Consumer behavior is being redefined. Its course has not yet been determined, making it difficult to predict the audience's reaction to new communication points.
The company "Ochakovo" has developed an analogue of the legendary Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite that are no longer on the market. "Ochakovo" not only used visual similarity through corporate colors and similar names but also preserved the recognizable taste.
It seems like hype, but let's take a closer look. In this situation, the brand is mimicking well-known brands and, it can be said, is benefiting from the marketing fruits they have been developing for years. This is a stable customer base, and the hypothesis of the "Ochakovo" team sounds something like this: people do not change their behavior quickly when consuming their favorite brand in the long term, so the first thing they will try when it disappears is a product that is as similar as possible. Well, then all that remains is to develop not just a similar but a familiar taste, and the trick will work. If you want to make such decisions, then market research in changing conditions will help you before launching your product.
2. Adapting previous communication and creatives to new conditions. Nokian Tyres Case.
We hear a familiar slogan in a different way in the context of external events, and we perceive any advertising campaign through the prism of the public agenda. New ideas are needed for adapting communication to current realities. The readiness of the brand to rethink its communication style can positively affect consumer attitudes.
Nokian Tyres chose tactfulness and care for the feelings of its customers. The tire manufacturer refused to use the word "safety" for a federal advertising campaign, considering that it could have an ambiguous connotation now.
A big plus for the brand for thinking in the interests of the public, not just compliance with the agenda. We worked on this case ourselves, so we have details firsthand. The client understood that maintaining their position would be an inadequate solution. The tactic we chose was to shift the focus from one advantage to the overall feeling of using the product. You can also apply this: every company has a set of values, and you can always combine them or, conversely, reveal the one that will resonate most with the audience. In any situation, you can look at the problem from a new angle.
3. Transmitting the brand's position to the audience's reaction. 12STOREEZ Case.
The brand's argumentation of the reasons and consequences of its actions makes its policy transparent and the audience loyal.
Ivan Khokhlov, the co-founder of the brand "12 STOREEZ," published a post in March where he explained why the company has to raise prices:
"Look, we produce 50% of our products completely abroad - payments for such products are made in yuan, euros, and dollars. The remaining approximately 50% we produce in Russia, but the cost of the finished product itself now accounts for only 20% of the total cost, while the remaining 80% is materials and accessories purchased at new exchange rates in other countries in euros and yuan. Thus, a total of 90% of the cost of 12 STOREEZ products depends on currency exchange rates".
This is the most liked post (36,000) in the company's account this year. Why do we see love instead of hate? One of the reasons is that the brand leader communicates directly with the audience. A dialogue is created that helps people understand what is behind the consequences that are unpleasant for them. However, business processes are difficult for ordinary, even loyal customers to understand. In this text, Ivan speaks in very human and simple terms, which perfectly matches the brand positioning. But even with them, most of the subscribers reacted negatively to the post.
Of course, it is difficult to avoid hate entirely, but how can this initiative be improved? For example, make phrases like "payments for such products are made" more understandable to "we pay for products" or "the cost of making the finished product by sewing now accounts for only 20%" to "now the finished product is only 20% of the cost of making it by sewing". This is a small detail, but it will help describe business processes in language that is accessible to a wider range of brand users.
4. Improving the process of creating previous content. The case of "Sadi Pridonya".
The established scheme of creating content through materials from foreign partners and even compliance with the developed design standards is not always possible now.
For example, the company "Sadi Pridonya", which produces juices and alternative dairy products, faced problems with the supply of cardboard and paints for packaging their goods.
The brand solved the problem in a very creative way: it announced a redesign in a minimalist concept and released a "Sanction Collection". The product line lost its color print on the packaging, but continued to be supplied to retail outlets uninterrupted. The new design not only reduced production costs but also elegantly emphasized the company's business position.
The solution with minimalism is resourceful. The effect can even be enhanced by not only getting rid of elements, but also working out the adaptation of the design in a slightly more detailed way under the idea of cutting off the excess, to give the project a capsule format. Now many brands simply optimize costs, but the "Sadi Pridonya" case is an excellent example of how you can turn a negative moment into your advantage.
Communication without Sanctions
From product packaging to advertising campaigns, it's all a dialogue between the brand and consumers. In any marketing action (or lack thereof), we convey a message that the audience perceives and interprets in their interests.
Sanction conditions are a mode of energy and resource conservation. But even if a brand decides to save on some processes, communication should not be on that list. The reputation of a brand is formed not only in fair weather but also when we all stock up on total black "just in case."
A well-constructed visual, verbal, and conceptual communication strategy will allow you to bypass all sanctions and boundaries and convey your position through a creative approach.
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