You’ve heard it before, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Just Google it, and 4.1 Billion results are returned in .54 seconds! But this article isn’t here to talk about how to assert yourself, or how people perceive you, or how to have a conversation to build trust, though, each of these are interesting and applicable to you as a leader. The focus of this article is the totality of our brand message and the noise created in the execution of the message. Language, branding, synesthesia and design can all influence the amount of noise in the communication channel. Each area offers consideration and opportunities individually for further review. Taking a snippet approach, each topic will be edited for basic concepts, so you can just “dip your toes in the water” so to speak.
Let’s start with communication basics. How does communication happen? Communication channels include face-to-face communication, broadcast media, mobile channels, electronic communication and written communication. All are channels for your brand. It’s important to think about what channels are used because the wrong channel can lead to negative consequences. Mobile, face-to-face and broadcast media provide the added benefit of interpreting the tone along with the message. However, any communication channel can be impacted by the communication process. As a quick reminder, the communication process is the steps taken in order to successfully communicate. Determinants of the communication process include a sender (your brand), message (words, visuals, audio, symbols), encoding of a message (emojis, memes, video, audio, words), selecting of a channel of communication (social media, website, podcast, internet, print), receipt of the message by the receiver (your target audience), decoding of the message (interpretation of the message) and feedback (the response of your audience and return message, i.e. like, follow, comment, conversion). Noise is anything that hinders communication. One factor which creates a barrier in communication is language.
In “The Little Prince,” the Fox said, “words are the source of all misunderstandings.” Words carry meaning across all of our senses. You can say something verbally yet project something completely different with your tone, gaze or general attitude. We’ve all had time when conversations didn’t go the way we had hoped. Yet, when it comes to our company, our brand, we rush to offer the next promotion, meet an event deadline, respond to last minute opportunities or simply push off or delegate our messaging to others. This delegation or rushed execution impacts language. Written language is the written form of communication which includes both reading and writing. Written language, whether reading or writing, requires basic language abilities. “These include phonological processing (understanding that words are made of discrete sounds, then associating letters with these sounds, i.e., decoding), vocabulary, and syntax (grammar).” Written language involves the use of typography. Typography clarified the hierarchy and presence of the message and considers typeface style, legibility and readability, font type, space, length, height and weight. Language is the thing that makes our brand human. It influences the perception of who we are and how people feel or perceive our brand to be. We certainly don’t want our brand to be the source of all misunderstandings!
Learning how to communicate our thoughts is an artform. Branding is about the way people feel about the brand. What is the reputation, the emotions, feelings and perceptions that come to mind when your name is seen or heard? Creating a framework and spending time on a good brand style design guide can help you when you need to delegate. The best brands are consistent in their use of colors, fonts, imagery and logo. As we move customers from awareness to recall to consideration and hopefully purchase, we do so through continuous, memorable repetition. Developing this consistency, starts with the creation of a brand design style guide. Need some inspiration? HubSpot, a marketing, sales and service software, offers free templates and a great article with 21 Brand Style Guide Examples. Your brand guide should include your mission statement, buyer personas, color palette, editorial style guide (voice or tone), typography, and communication channels (social media, tv, radio, print etc.). Spending some time researching brands you like and thinking through your vision as a leader will help you to create an authentic brand guide for your company. Having this “toolkit” will help you to be better prepared to sustain and scale your business and more people engage with your brand. Once you have your brand style guide, you can move to the next of emotional connection in communication, synesthesia marketing.
Synesthesia is the fusing of two separate senses which helps people to experience more than one sensory sensation. Synesthesia marketing is the use of multiple senses, sometimes all five, to promote brands. In the past, marketing generally focused on audio and visual channels, however, today with so much competition in the global marketplace, brands are increasingly focused on all senses. Increasingly, brands are staking claims on scents, colors and trying to introduce cross-sensory communication. Brands have the important task of building a reputation which offers a positive recall for their audience. Through repetition and consistency in messaging, brands seek to engage and attract our target audience. We can do that through emotional experiences, feelings and perceptions. It’s known that emotion is impactful for the decision-making process. Brands that focus on multi-sensory marketing will be better prepared for the new era of The Age of You. If you haven’t thought about synesthesia, you might want to reconsider because synesthesia sells. You don’t have to spend big money, but you do have to spend time and have creativity in your design.
Thirsty for inspiration? Check out Coca-Colas print ad campaign “try not to hear this!”
What’s the best way to design with synesthesia in mind? For synesthetes, numbers have taste, images have a feeling and sound may have color. Designing with these senses in mind will help to make your brand more memorable and “if you can associate things with colors or emotions, your (customers) memories are going to stick better” (Berit Brogaard). Sight, sound and touch connect neurologically which helps people to better understand sentiment and metaphors. At the foundation, it begins with typography. Typography says a lot about who you are as a brand. Selecting the significant and specific font helps you to effectively communicate in your brand style guide what font you want others to use when talking about your company and maintain consistency. Fonts can also determine how someone reads your brand message. Remember, fonts have the ability to communicate feelings and meaning and can play a role when used with imagery to have a multi-sensory effect. Remember to consider color combinations and think about the psychology behind color. So, before you hand over your digital and print communication programs, take a little time to think through who you want to be and how you want to be perceived. Create that brand style guide and use your fonts and images wisely.
While it may seem a little overwhelming, working smarter not harder starts with time spent exercising your brain. You have a passion and a purpose, isn’t it in your best interest to make sure that you are communicating that effectively and reducing as much risk as possible for that message to be lost in the noise? Communication, brand, language, design and multi-sensory experiences are all important in today’s marketplace. Good design involves planning and bringing order from chaos and randomness. Good design starts with understanding who you are speaking to, how you are sending your message and what senses (eyes, ears, taste, touch) your customer will experience when receiving your message.
Markestry’s goal is to contribute elegantly to the conversation of marketing. As Leslie Segal wrote “elegance is the measure of the grace and simplicity of the design relative to the complexity of its functions.” Since space is like air and helps design to breathe, the design of our topics is meant to create space and reduce the noise around digital marketing. Effective communication relies on feedback and your feedback matters. Which topics interests you that you’d like to learn more? I’m waiting for the feedback look, please reach out and let me know what you’d like to hear about next.