Ivaylo Borisov, Ardency Consulting
June 8, 2022
Communications as driving force for tech companies
Leveraged strategically, marketing communications support business goals and organizational performance through corporate brand management and brand positioning to internal and external audiences.
Communications are primary driver of brand positioning through corporate reputation management and the critical brand elements for technological companies of trust and credibility – trust in brands that can address customers’ challenges and credibility to deliver on brand promise. As such, marketing communications are the foundation of corporate reputation, one of the most important factors for brand consideration by decision-makers and influencers in the complex enterprise purchasing decisions process. Another important aspect of corporate reputation is industry leadership through business performance. People perceive successful leaders reliable to deliver on their promise and communications are instrumental in constructing this perception.
Trust is a personality trait and as people trust people tech companies need to leverage leadership communications and align internal and external communications for corporate brand substance. Authenticity is the primary amplifier of messaging around performance and organizational behavior and communications nurture and deploy authentic brand ambassadors and thought leaders.
There are two crucial determinants of technological companies’ competitiveness – innovation and marketing communications. As most technological companies compete on commodity-type products, they deploy marketing communications for competitive advantage.
But trust, credibility, or even innovation, are basic brand elements for the tech companies. There could hardly be sustainable tech business without these. Therefore, organizations need to discover their unique differentiating brand elements and strategic communications are instrumental in this process. Identifying and communicating such distinguishing, often emotional, brand facets could be a game-changer in industry with often hard to differentiate tech offerings.
Lastly, strategically leveraged communications, based on robust planning process, could greatly enhance marketing’s effectiveness and efficiency. Communications could cost-effectively expand reach to and strengthen brand positioning among different stakeholders. Strategic communications take advantage of unique communications assets like CEOs, senior executives and employees for powerful thought leadership and brand positioning and utilize c-level reputational equity and leverage it for brand domination though earned media.
The state of media
Too many media. Too much content. Trust in record lows. Yet, great opportunity for organizations to establish credibility with strong, authentic message.
Modern media are constantly growing in number of formats and channels with digital upending the traditional centralized media model, dominated by limited number of leading platforms. Today, communications professionals need to command decentralized media and overcome enormous amounts of generated content for right messages to reach their audience.
While overall trust in media and spokespeople decreases, most recent research shows that business organizations and traditional media are more trusted than social media. Data also shows that people still look for credible media and organizations and leaders with authentic communications could reap enormous gains for their brands. Decreasing trust in media and spokespeople, together with trust in organizations as guardians of information quality, has given rise to brand journalism and presents opportunities for the organizations which strategically deploy c-level reputation and leadership communications.
Technology, a hugely important business and societal topic, has expanded coverage beyond specialized media to business and general news media. Often, even to lifestyle and entertainment as tech leaders have become increasingly involved with the societal challenges and exploring celebrity status.
This has presented challenges for organizational communications as one simple technological message would not work for all the various media, but also creates opportunities – the ones who adapt messaging beyond specialized and tech media, would reap most benefits.
Communications are most powerful when deployed in an integrated way, taking advantage of the distinct strengths of owned (blog, social, web site), shared and earned media though PR and media relations. Yet, one result of the rise of digital media is that some practitioners are pivoting too far in the opposite direction, focusing on owned media at the expense of earned media. And while blogs and other owned media allow organizations to have unfiltered outreach channel to their stakeholders (partners, developers community, customers), earned media is still most powerful for brand relevance and positioning through trusted corporate reputation.
The role of the corporate communications director
The communications director must ensure that communications directly contribute to business and marketing goals. Strategic communications leaders achieve this through strong brand management and advanced communications management processes and operations, more and more grounded in data and analytics.
Communications leader must be the ultimate brand guardian – to facilitate brand evolution, ensure correct brand positioning and brand leadership. To achieve the above, the communications leader needs to be able to command latest brand management, media and communications strategies for effective outreach to both internal and external audiences.
The corporate communications director must closely work with senior management of the organization to facilitate the brand evolution and ensure brand relevance and domination. They need to be able to uncover organization’s greatest communications assets, deploy them for effective and efficient communications and make the case of communications contributing to business performance.
Communications leaders need to be able to translate brand elements and values to powerful communications messages by keeping their finger on the pulse of the industry, technology, society and media. Communication leaders need to be agile in a fast-changing environment, while protecting the brand values. They need to be able to find the differentiating factor in the organization’s performance and explore this for industry leadership and be able to align organizational, media and audience priorities for messages that cut through the clutter and are relevant and adapted for broadest group of media. They need to understand the interrelationship between personalities and brands and be able to nurture brand ambassadors and leverage leadership communications.
The communications leader must ensure operational excellence for communications efficiency. They need to align resources with goals and often to combine external and internal assets to build communications capabilities. And, to achieve brand leadership, the head of communication needs to ensure stakeholders engagement on multiple platforms with most appropriate content – a huge strain on the departments’ operations.
Lastly, the communications leaders need to understand data and connect communications efforts to broader marketing and business goals through strong analytics to fulfill the promise of communications as competitiveness driver for tech companies.
B2B companies in tech and professional services need to make strategic decision on their industry markets and ensure sound industry-focused marketing outreach strategy which support corporate business strategy with appropriate brand positioning and resources.
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