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Defining Integrated Brand Communications

By Andres Morales | Published November 4, 2023
Edited January 28, 2024

    Integrated Brand Communications (IBC) refers to unification and management of the multiple communicative strategies and facets. IBC encompasses broad fields like advertising, public relations, and digital marketing.

Integrated Brand Communications (IBC) is a holistic communication strategy that unifies a brand's communication channels and facets. Through cohesive communications, IBC's purpose is to optimize a brand's influence and value.

As a brand grows and as new communication channels emerge, there starts to be an overwhelming amount of individual communicative facets and channels. IBC's purpose is to unite and manage these assets under a single holistic strategy and style. IBC integrates the activities of: public relations, advertising, investor relations, interactive and internal communications, digital communications, and owned media.

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How to Develop a Core Brand Message

This foundational step begins with introspective analysis, where businesses must delve into their mission, vision, and the key attributes that differentiate them from competitors. This involves engaging with key stakeholders, including leadership teams, employees, and even customers, to gain a comprehensive perspective of what the brand stands for.

Critical to this process is market research, which provides insights into customer needs, preferences, and perceptions, enabling the brand to align its message with what resonates most with its target audience. The core message should encapsulate the essence of the brand in a simple yet memorable way, serving as the guiding star for all communication strategies. It should be more than a slogan; it's a promise and a statement of purpose that consistently echoes across all marketing channels, from advertising to customer service, ensuring that every touchpoint with the customer reinforces the brand's identity and values. The development of this message is not just a marketing exercise, but a strategic endeavor that sets the tone for how the brand presents itself in the marketplace.

Here are some examples of well-known core brand messages:

Nike: “Just Do It.”
This iconic slogan goes beyond athletic apparel; it embodies an ethos of determination and empowerment. It appeals to athletes and non-athletes alike, encouraging them to push their limits.

Apple: “Think Different.”
Apple’s message reflects its commitment to innovation and individuality. It resonates with consumers who see themselves as creative, forward-thinking, and outside the mainstream.

L'Oreal: “Because You're Worth It.”
This message speaks to self-esteem and personal value, positioning L'Oreal’s products as not just cosmetics, but as tools for self-empowerment and confidence.

BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
This slogan encapsulates BMW’s commitment to luxury and superior driving performance, targeting consumers who value high-quality engineering and driving experience.

Disney: “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Disney’s message captures the essence of its brand - a magical, joyous experience for children and families. It's not just about amusement parks; it’s about creating happy, lasting memories.

Once your core brand message is established, the next crucial step is to focus on cross-channel coordination. This involves strategically utilizing a variety of communication channels — including social media, email, websites, and physical retail outlets — in a coordinated and synergistic way to engage with customers. The fundamental goal of cross-channel coordination is to provide a unified brand experience. It ensures that no matter which medium customers choose to interact with, they are met with consistent messaging and seamless service. This coordinated approach is essential for reinforcing the core brand message across all platforms, thereby enhancing the overall impact and reach of your brand communication.

How to Get Started with Cross-channel Coordination

The integration of channels in cross-channel coordination begins with a strategic approach to leveraging both owned and paid media. For instance, a well-crafted blog post on an owned website can be transformed into a series of social media posts, a topic for an email newsletter, or even the basis for a paid digital advertising campaign. This tactic, known as content repurposing, not only ensures message consistency across different media but also extends the reach of content to different audience segments. Additionally, businesses can use insights from one channel to inform strategies in another. For example, a high engagement rate on a social media post about a particular topic could indicate a good opportunity for a more detailed exploration in a blog post or an email campaign.

Moreover, when it comes to paid media, aligning the content with the organic, owned media is critical. Paid advertisements should feel like a natural extension of the brand’s narrative portrayed in owned channels. Tailoring these ads based on the audience’s response to organic content can significantly increase their effectiveness. For instance, if a particular product or service gets more attention on the brand’s website or blog, businesses can consider amplifying this content through paid social media ads or search engine marketing.

Investing in the right technology is crucial for optimizing these efforts. Marketing automation tools, such as HubSpot or Marketo, enable businesses to streamline and automate repetitive tasks. They can schedule posts across various social media platforms, send out email campaigns at optimal times, and even segment audiences for more targeted communication. These tools can also trigger specific actions based on customer interactions, such as sending a follow-up email after a customer downloads a resource from the website.

Data analytics tools are also vital in measuring the performance of cross-channel efforts. Google Analytics, for instance, can track website traffic and user behavior, providing insights into how different content drives engagement. Social media analytics can offer a detailed view of how content performs on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. By integrating this data, businesses can get a holistic view of their digital footprint and understand which channels and what types of content work best.

Every interaction, whether on an owned blog or a paid social media ad, should feel interconnected and part of a larger narrative.

Expanding a Core Message into a Brand Platform

The first step in aiding this evolution starts by creating a brand promise. This promise is a commitment to the customers, encapsulating what they can expect from every interaction with the brand. It sets the expectations for the quality, service, and value the brand offers. For example, a technology company's core message of innovation could translate into a brand promise of delivering cutting-edge solutions.

Following this, the brand's values are defined. These values are the guiding principles and beliefs that the brand stands for and adheres to in its operations, communications, and relationships. They are a reflection of the brand's culture and ethos. A brand with a core message centered around sustainability would embrace values like environmental responsibility and ethical sourcing.

The brand personality & voice then comes into play. This is where the brand takes on human characteristics, such as being friendly, professional, or adventurous. The brand personality dictates the tone and style of all communications, ensuring consistency across different channels. It's about giving the brand a voice and a character that people can relate to. The brand voice should be consistent with the brand personality and values, whether it's through written content, advertising, or customer service interactions.

Simultaneously, the brand’s positioning must be established. This involves determining how the brand wants to be perceived in the market relative to its competitors. It's about finding a unique niche or angle that sets the brand apart and highlights its strengths and unique selling points.

Relevant Data

77% of consumers prefer shopping with brands they follow on social media

85% of companies have brand guidelines

Marketers’ top concerns include brand engagement & consistency

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