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Do Words Still Matter?

 Flying Words SmallAt the start of the new year, marketers are flooded with lists predicting the most important industry trends. Most of these lists include adapting and integrating new technology to make digital marketing a more effective component in your media mix. The impact of the various new digital platforms, which have dramatically changed a customer’s relationship with his or her favorite brands, reminds us of a revolutionary idea about marketing introduced over forty years ago.

The Power of the Medium

“The phrase, ‘the medium is the message,’ was introduced in Marshall McLuhan's most widely known book,Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.  McLuhan proposed that amediumitself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. He said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered by the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.”

This idea fits nicely with one current point of view which urges marketers to focus as much attention on the method of customer engagement, (i.e. social media, videos, online messaging, mobile apps, etc.), as they do on the content itself.

The Power of the Word

On the other hand, there are those who believe that effective communication relies most heavily on the words. We aren’t minimizing the advantages of new technology, but any of these platforms need compelling content. We saw this quote in a recent marketing newsletter and like it a lot:

“Content is king, and it is expected to play an even bigger role in 2016 digital marketing. Content should be educational, entertaining or enriching, rather than a message centered on a direct sales pitch. A strong strategy of creative, personal, interesting content is eclipsing more traditional areas like SEO management and advertising.”    

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Ben Silverman, Marketing Writer for Brafton

Back to McLuhan’s book, this review makes the point more forcefully about the importance of content:

The book is a cautionary tale for marketers today who hear the Web's siren call and ignore the power of the spoken word.”—Wall Street Journal

Creating a Strong Brand

While both the medium and the message can help define your brand’s strengths and competitive merits, most competitors are using the same digital technology as you. Technology really won’t differentiate you. Words will. To create new content that will describe how you fit in this new marketplace, we suggest creating a Brand Positioning Statement. If you already have one, it may need to be revised

The Brand Positioning Statement:

This is an internal document used to help guide the process when developing marketing and advertising messages, no matter what the medium. It can guide you in your consideration of sponsorships, strategic alliances, even in acquisitions.   It reflects how you want consumers to think and feel about your brand.

The Benefits of Strong Branding:

Organizations that focus on developing and nurturing their brand over time reap the rewards of their efforts. The benefits of having a strong, identifiable brand are:

  • Differentiation: The key drivers of the brand help separate you from the competition
  • Consistency: The brand promise stays the same so that stakeholders know what to expect from your bank
  • Clarity: Your stakeholders easily understand what your bank is… and just as importantly, what your bank is not
  • Ownability: A strong brand cannot be copied; imitators are considered just that, a distant second to the authentic original
  • Enduring: A strong brand can remain relevant despite a changing marketplace by evolving in a direction consistent with its brand equity and in a manner that makes sense to the community.
  • Loyalty and Trust:  Strong brands are awarded loyalty and trust because they develop an emotional relationship with their stakeholders rather than just a transactional relationship. 
  • Commitment: By delivering emotional benefits, in addition to lower order functional benefits, a brand can create an enduring and emotionally satisfying experience for its users.  
  • Price Elasticity: Users choose your brand based on its value…not based on price or fees.

Your brand positioning statement will be the most accurate if it flows from organization-wide input, especially from top management. This process is your opportunity to tap into the knowledge and perspectives of all departments. If there are silos you wish could be taken down, communal development of a brand positioning statement can be a first remedial step.  

And as you go through the exercise, always keep sight of the fact that these few words will inform the content of your marketing and all internal and external communications. The messaging of a strong brand is ultimately about separating yourself from the competition.

To help you get started, we are offering you a FREE step-by-step guide, “Building a Better Brand Positioning Statement.