There was a specific brand that permeated my adolescence and early twenties that was cooler than cool. It’s not a stretch to say that it played a big part in informing my career choice of communications, all while keeping my skin well moisturised without using products tested on animals. The brand was headed up by a formidable, pure dynamo of a woman that all the girls in my Year 12 cohort wanted to be when we grew up. They used marketing campaigns that compelled us to protect the planet, support community fair trade, defend human rights, support rights for women and remove blackheads. Can I get a hell yeah?
A decade or two passed, and imagine my dismay when walking past one of their stores with my cherubs to see an image bigger than my house of a naked man hiding his bits with a bar of (glycerine cruelty-free) soap. There can be no denying the model was sporting an admirable set of abs, but explicit exploitation, sexualised images and objectification were a considerable disconnect from the brand’s former, long term focus on unshakable ethics.
Sex sells; there’s nothing new about that. But it doesn’t have to, and for the vast majority of brands and businesses, it’s inappropriate, unnecessary and unacceptable to buy in to the increasing overexposure of sexual advertising.
Business values and brand personality lie at the core of communications. It’s one of the first questions I ask clients at the start of a new project and the two inform each other. If a business values are grace and discipline and temperance then it’s highly unlikely (and molto difficult to implement) to have a brand personality that is cheeky and irreverent.
As a communications specialist, one of my major goals whilst working with clients is to ensure their communications reflect their values.
I look objectively at clients’ communications, specifically how they look from the outside. I assess everything against the values of the business, from event promotion, blog posts, websites, email campaigns and social media. Are the messages confusing? Do they align to the business vision? Do they inspire or offend the business target audiences?
Health and fitness businesses are often (unfortunately, and no doubt unintentionally) great examples of a disconnect between values and branding. Health and fitness often have the values of empowerment, motivation, strength and community. Let’s add welcoming, professional and inclusivity into the values mix. Step into the physical space of the business, and no doubt those values are on display via the staff, the equipment and the programming. However, take a peek at their Facebook page, or the posts on their website. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that the content is at best male-centric, and at worst blatantly sexist. A lot of content I see is demeaning and irritating, and I’m not impartial to sending a quiet PM to businesses to clean up their posts and stop offending their broader audience.
Communications messages can either enhance or detract. They can support or demolish a brand, and I love the part of my work that ensures communications efforts stay bang on brand whilst hitting the right targets, confirming that the way a business looks on the outside matches its goals and values. I work with businesses to ensure their branding remains unambiguous and their communications methods reflect the nuances and ethos of the business. We use targeted communications tactics to make sure their marketing efforts hit the right people with the right messages, and we work hard to avoid the negative stereotypes, branding and messaging that some businesses simply can’t seem to escape.
If you’d like an objective set of eyes to look over your communications, get in touch. I’ll help you cover up those rippling abdominals.
Tell me, are your communications bang on brand?
This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock communications, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.