Everyone communicates. We become more savvy at it with time, but we rarely think of it as something we need to re–learn as time goes on. Still, while the world changes, the purpose, styles, and methods of communication change with it.
The thing is, it’s not just right now that this matters (although the current climate makes it especially apparent). It’s something we should consistently be in tune with, and the importance of having a strong, but fluid communication strategy can’t be understated.
Remembering a few distinct concepts can help take you a long way:
1. Understand People Right Now
Not 5 years ago, not 5 months ago, not even 5 days ago. A constantly connected stream of information means things are always changing. People have made a habit of adjusting their needs, desires, and thoughts based on situations. We can’t know how to effectively connect with them unless we ourselves are connected to “the now.”
That’s why communicating in the moment is one of the best ways to be seen and heard when it matters most. Your message should strike a chord somehow. It should be aware. But it should do so in a way that resonates with people. Take the current situation, for instance. The immense impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has brands all over the world trying to use the power of empathy to reach their audience in related, meaningful ways. Will your message stand out above others? Will it offer some kind of value? Will it serve to uplift the consumer and elevate your brand? Being in tune with people right now can mean the difference between connecting with someone or simply becoming a part of the noise.
Worried these communications will become obsolete too quickly? Let it go. Part of speaking to your audience in the moment is understanding that some things will have a shorter shelf life. But the impact it has on viewers in the moment will be far more lasting.
2. Be Consistent
I know—you just read all about how you need to be able to turn on a dime with your communications. But that’s why this point is so important to bring up. In a world where businesses need to adapt so quickly, it’s imperative that your brand is still your brand. Your audience needs to have a familiar persona to connect to regardless of messaging modifications. The content you put out is like a structure that you build on top of an unmoving foundation. You rework and refashion the building blocks, but the framework should always be the same.
This is really about trust. Those who engage with your brand look for consistency as a sign of reliability. One survey had 76% of people saying they will pay attention to a brand’s communications if it’s one they’ve trusted for a long time. Building trust through steady brand positioning with constant underlying themes creates a customer base that is receptive and engaged.
As businesses, we devote a lot of our time to figuring out the best ways to communicate with our audience, so it’s easy to forget that communication starts from within. Internal communication has a way of manifesting itself externally, whether it’s indirectly, through company culture, or directly, through social media and other outlets. This is where the “brand transparency” discussion comes into play. It’s not just for consumers.
Just like with your audience, employee communication changes over time too. Modern employees don’t just expect a modern approach to communication, they thrive on it. And since up to 80% of an organization’s opportunity for improvement comes from frontline employees, you may want to consider how something like internal communications can affect your company’s performance.
From timeliness, to brand consistency, to internal relationships, communication plays a huge role in every organization’s success. We learn it and re-learn it because it’s driven by people, and people change over time. The good news is that communication is something ownable. With the right efforts and an openness to positive change, your brand will see the effects of good communication strategies for years to come.