Consumers and businesses are bombarded daily with promotional and advertising noise; they receive hundreds of textual and auditory messages from morning until night, 24/7 and 365 days a year.
To cut through this clutter, the brand or product message must be clear, single-minded and must be carried through to the buyer, using the right communications tools for each stage of buyer comprehension.
In the first step, the brand must capture or grab the customer’s attention. Visual design is an important element of successful communication. For example, the eye is always attracted to coloured elements before black and white elements, isolated elements before elements in a group. In a cluttered world with many messages being sent through many media, every hour of every day, gaining customer attention is a critical and difficult communications task.
What attracts and holds attention? Amongst the things that do are:
- Consumers pay attention to things that have implications or impact on their lives and their needs, values and goals
- They also pay attention to people they can relate to – people who look, act, speak or seem like them
- Rhetorical questions capture consumers’ attention
- Imagery will create better brand name recall, higher brand recognition, better recognition of logos and better brand promise recall
- Consumers attend to things that are pleasant, that make them feel good
- Attractive visuals are engaging, as are familiar songs and musical pieces
- Humour can be attention grabbing, but must be related to the advert product/brand – otherwise people just remember the joke
- Consumers attend to novel things that surprise them and can be engaged by the unexpected (not new, but unusual) graphics before text. People in Western cultures always look at the upper left corner of a screen or ad for the most important information. Use of too many colours results in visual clutter, as does using too many fonts and over-use of italics.
The consumer must then become aware of the brand. Capturing someone’s attention does not mean they will necessarily notice the brand name – this needs to be made focal. The third step in brand communication is hi-touch - creating knowledge – the point at which comprehension of the brand and what it means becomes important. Questions about the brand, what it stands for, its benefits, differentiation from competitors, whom it is for and proof of delivery must be answered. The fourth step is brand attitude – persuading the consumer and building their conviction in the brand’s suitability for their emotional and functional needs. The final step is the purchase action.
- Awareness and initial expectation of the brand is primarily created by Advertising and PR.
- The brand position is then more fully and convincingly explained by marketing collateral, events, web and staff. They secure customer comprehension of the brand’s differentiation and relevance to their key needs.
- Successful delivery of the brand position, crucially, underpins the customer’s confidence for its future usage and in their recommending it to friends and colleagues.