jueves, 5 de diciembre de 2013

Sensitive dialogs through communication strategies

By Juan Sebastián Cárdenas Salas

We are shaped to be connected with others, and communication is the essential feed to achieve this connection. As humans, we are connected with this world through the senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. As a result, some people are more visual, while others are more auditory, or kinesthetic[1]. Hence, communication is not only related to talking, it is related to all the senses. Thus, a brand communication plan requires an accurate work to outline a strong, coherent and touchable sensorial identity. As a strategist in this realm, I want to expose a tool that I called “the emotional rational” which has been useful in my different endeavors regardless of the type and weight. I developed this tool looking for how to ensure a conscious rapport with costumers, the key of an effective communication strategy. It is basically divided in four segments whose aim is identify the specific communication needs in relation to the company’s culture and its identity: Proposal of value, Personality, Sensorial perception, and Inspiration-projection. I will expose each one of these steps.

Before defining the strategy, you should ask what the brand difference is. This question allows to identify the proposal of value[2] through three relevant factors. The first is to identify the strengthens, weaknesses, opportunities and treats (SWOT[3]) according to the brand that you want to communicate. All of these factors are related to innovation processes, learning lessons, challenges, enhancements, skills, competitors, etc., that make the difference to boost the strategy. Next, you need to check what rational attributes (functional benefits) are merged in the mind of the stakeholders related to the usability of your product/service, i.e., the functionality. For instance: Starbucks’s Teas are refreshing products with tasty flavors. Then, you have to check what emotional attributes could affect the audience, i.e., the positive sensations. For instance: in Starbucks I feel comfortable in a great atmosphere where I can study or work for a while. This previous analysis allows you having great basis to structure a well-planned strategy. 

As human beings, brands have specific traits, so the second and most important step is to define the tone and style for your plan, asking who the brand is, in order to clarify its identity. You will develop an effective tone and style to start the dialog once you know what personality and verbal expression traits are linked to the brand. You ought to ask basically two questions: If this brand/product/service/event were a person, what adjectives would be describing it and how would it develop a dialog and why? We could easy deduce that Apple[4] is a creative, innovative, smart and artistic brand. Its verbal expression could be emotional, assertive, influencer and inspiring. Thus, you are going to have the hint to establish a relationship with your stakeholders through the actions or activities that you define in your plan. 

Things around make sense when you can feel these. Next, it is important to check how you the brand is going to connect with people through the senses. Therefore, you should ask your clients or costumers what type of images, sounds, scents, and sensations of weight and textures are in their mind when they are thinking about the brand. When I think about Disney World, the first image that comes to mind is Mickey Mouse, then, Cinderella’s Castle. Regarding sounds, immediately I hear to Tinker bell in the Disney’s audio books. When I´m planning to go to the cinema, I start thinking about the smell of pop corn, and if I think about ice cream, I feel the softness in my mouth. As a result, you can enhance your call to action and communication activities using all this background of sensitive information. 

Finally, when you already have a good background of inspiring and useful information to define the strategy, you should apply benchmarking to identify how other similar brands could inspire your plan, not in order to copy it, just to have a wide vision about styles and communication impacts. You must define a time to make real the goals as well. With an accurate timetable you will able to define a well-structured and measurable action plan. You should define your economic resources according to the impact that you wish to get, for this reason, before defining the action plan from your strategy, you have to ask what amount of capital you are willing to invest to get what you want. Remember that the creativity to define it should be even more important than capital. Moreover, with all this prior background of relevant and strategic information which has allowed you to know many things about you, you should be definitely able to be creative. 

In consequence, using this practical tool/survey which is a channel to understand your brand before to communicate it, you will shape an effective dialog to ensure a good and profitable relationship with your stakeholders in all the senses. As human beings, organizations are living beings which need to express an identity. As a strategist of communication and branding you always have to make sure that this expression through communication strategies will be coherent and honest with the promises and actions from the company where you are in charge. People almost always avoid having trusted relations with liars, in the context of organizations it is the same, keep that in mind.


[1] Look at NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

[2] David Aaker’s statement. David Aaker for several years has been a well-recognized strategist in the theory of marketing and branding.

[3] Well-known Marketing tool

[4] Think different is the promise which we can see in its innovative products.

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