Marketing communications is only a piece of the total marketing mix and just one element of what actually builds the brand in the mind of the consumer. Dr. Tom Duncan explains the situation in his book, Driving Brand Value.
Understand the difference between advertising and brand communications:
There are four major types of Brand Messages:
- Product messages – all product elements – price points, distribution points and product performance – have a common dimension.
- Support services – customer services, tech support, after-market follow-up. If customers’ communication with a company is negative after a purchase is made, the brand relationship is weakened and the chance of repurchase unlikely.
- Unplanned – what is said in the media and trade journals (not placed by media relations specialists) and what one customer says to another. What special interest groups and government agencies say about a brand can be powerful brand messages, as they are seen as objective third parties.
- Marketing communications – although important in creating awareness and trial, a hundred of these messages can be drowned out by just one product, service or unplanned message. Herein lies the agency’s challenge.
Since communications is only one of the four brand messages, it follows that the agency must be the client’s partner in monitoring all brand messages in order for the mother-of-all-business models to exist: true Integrated Marketing (IM).