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Are You Visible?

by Klaus Oestreicher

In my last column, I asked whom do you talk to. In this one, I invite you to ask yourself whether you are visible. Don’t click away. This question is not as easy as it may sound.

A person is hit by about 2,500 to 3,000 advertisement impacts every day. That sounds very much and it is. Broken down, the figure translates into an average of two impacts per minute. Though, in reality, there are moments during the day where it is exposed to many more impacts in this timeframe, our brain is certainly able to process that amount of information.

However, given this massive volume of material, it comes as little surprise that most of a company advertisement is seen and immediately forgotten. That is one of the reasons why building an easy-to-remember brand takes such a long time. More and more people are unable to connect and combine a logo with a brand name.

Don’t get me wrong. Advertising is not a desperate endeavour, far from it. The point I want to make is the following: although a commonly-held view, thinking that advertisement by itself will do the job of brand building is not sufficient.

To become visible today involves many disciplines such as psychology, strategy, communication, marketing and PR. Building visibility requires a communication plan that outlines an overall strategy, which spells out marketing targets linked to planned financial and sales outcomes.

That plan should be based on psychological criteria, answering questions such as: Where do I find my target audience? What does this audience want to learn? Which way is the message best disseminated? How often do I communicate a message?

This procedure is a very complex one that calls on more than one person’s expertise to design all these important pieces, which will make a picture out of a puzzle. The question any company needs to ask is whether the necessary resources are being mobilised to achieve the objective.

Visibility will be achieved when a brand is immediately recognised by the target audience. That includes the sound use of a corporate design and identity, well-placed advertisements, the staff’s behaviour and much more. The better the links between all these threads, the better the clients’ reaction. I would go so far to add to corporate design and corporate identity the whole area of corporate behaviour.

Corporate behaviour may become the most visible signature and business card of any organisation. When all the staff speaks the same highly identifiable corporate language, using the same terminology and argumentation then an impact of the highest value is created, which will supports all other signs of visibility.

I will not bother you with Ferdinand de Saussures semiology, but one aspect is worth mentioning: We all give meaning to things only by naming them – signifier and signified, as this science calls it. For sure, the meaning for a particular thing is different amongst various cultures. But, when all the tools and resources of an organisation are working towards projecting a unique, clearly defined signal, then a brand is “signified”. Does this happen to your organisation? Are you visible this way? Sadly, many companies aren’t.

Spelling out the same message with the same voice helps shape a competitive edge. The early bird catches the worm, the saying goes. The company that understands quickly the market power hidden in the corporate behaviour + corporate identity + corporate design equation will be a winner.

It is not a question of size or investment, it is a question of combining all these efforts under one roof. Not an easy task, I admit. Corporate behaviour is more than just wearing the company uniform. It is aligning the behaviour of many individuals.

I have been privy to too many discussions within companies where sales objectives have been set without due regard as to whether these were financially sustainable and/or whether they could be realised on the production floor. Corporate behaviour – high-level all–encompassing interactive exchange– can go a long way to resolve these problems.

For customers it means the company can be relied upon. It nutures a positive perception since time and money are not wasted by endless discussions to clear problems. The consequence for the company is improved customer loyalty. These are tangible outcomes achieved by visible improvements of the overall performance.

So, visibility on the market and in the eyes of the customers means far more than recognising a logo or a brand. Visibility is achieved when customers place successive orders with a company and keep doing so without stating bargaining all over again for each order. Visibility will then translate into a positive P&L statement.

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