In a practical sense, branding is something that most people understand. For example, if you asked any business owner with the slightest bit of experience to come up with a branding campaign themselves, chances are they could produce something to get the job done. It might not be ‘breathtakingly creative’ or strategically bulletproof (hint: no campaign is), but they could still do it.
However, if you asked that same person to explain some of the deeper insights of branding, they would most likely be stuck.
It’s similar to people’s relationship with the concept of communication; it’s highly important, crucial to life and something people feel they understand. Yet, as ‘common sense’ as it is, there’s still so much we don’t know about it. For example, you’ve probably met someone who knew how to communicate in a practical sense (they can talk, write etc), but clearly didn’t understand the deeper fundamentals of how to communicate; e,g getting their message across without seeming ‘demanding’.
The point of this blog is to explain one of those ‘deep, fundamental elements’ of branding. A concept known as ‘Brand Integration’.
If you’ve been struggling to get your head around branding, then understanding this concept might help everything fall into place.
What Is Brand Integration?
Brand integration is the process of streamlining your branding to have a consistent message and style across every medium.
Brand integration is very important because it ensures that there’s no fragmentation, which occurs when there are multiple agencies working on the advertising of one company. What happens in these situations is that each agency has a different idea of what the focus of the advertising should be, which results in inconsistent messaging over the range of marketing efforts.
Let’s use a bakery as an example. “Bill’s Bread” is a bakery from Perth that is looking to do some advertising to boost sales. The owner Bill goes to three agencies – one for radio advertising, one for press advertising and one for online advertising. Bill decides to let each agency to take control of the creative direction of the marketing they’ve been assigned to.
This is where things get a bit confusing.
- The radio agency creates a bunch of ads that focus on the ‘freshness’ of the bread from the bakery. They also believe that the tone of the ad should seem young and vibrant. They use young voices in their ads and use upbeat, youthful music in the background.
- The press agency creates a bunch of ads that focuses on the ‘quality’ of the ingredients used in the bread, and that the tone of the ad should be rustic and high-quality. They use beautifully-shot photos and intricate design in their advertisements.
- The web agency focuses on the ‘range’ of products available. They make sure to include as many product images as possible, and talk about the amount of value customers will get from going to this one-stop bakery shop.
Now you might be thinking, “why is this a problem, wouldn’t that just promote more benefits?” Not exactly.
While its true that these ads will promote a variety of different benefits of Bill’s Bread, in reality this ends up not making a memorable impact on the target audience.
The answer to this question lies in a deeper examination of how each of the agencies go about making their ads and how people filter through advertising in everyday life.
As we saw earlier, each of the agencies had their own unique vision for the marketing of Bill’s Bread. Now we need to look at how this affects the potential customers who will witness these ads on a regular basis.
A singe person takes in thousands of advertising messages every day. No matter where they are, they are likely experiencing some form of advertising. Because they can’t take in everything without causing a sensory overload, they choose to filter a lot of it out. This means that it is actually quite difficult for advertising messages to perforate their filtering systems and explains why people to see ads multiple times in order for them to be remembered.
In the context of Bill’s Bread, people are actively filtering out large parts of the advertising. They are unlikely reading the small print or checking out the logo in full detail. They are more likely getting a quick glance of the ad or half-listening to it on the radio and because they are very different in their styles and messaging, people don’t take it in because they don’t even realise that they are advertising the same company.
This is where the importance of brand integration comes into play.
Why Is Brand Integration Important?
In simple terms, Brand Integration is important because it makes sure that every marketing effort is working together as a ‘team’ to break through that filtration barrier. When the messaging, tone and style is inconsistent, the ads aren’t working together. They don’t get that ‘force’ that a great ad campaign gets from integration across all parts of the advertising.
Its like trying to break down a wall with 100 tennis balls being thrown one after the other, or one bowling ball thrown at once. The fragmented, weak approach of the tennis balls end up doing very little damage because they are not working as a team. Where as the bowling ball is one single force concentrating all of its power.
The Correct Way To Do Brand Integration
The way that you can ensure that brand integration is done properly, is to use one fully-integrated advertising agency. Using one agency minimizes or completely eliminates fragmentation, because one single place is working on everything.
Another way to ensure brand integration is to have a detailed style guide and a very clear proposition that is consistent across all marketing efforts.
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