Three Ways Brand Messaging Can Become Confusing to Your Customers Three Ways Brand Messaging Can Become Confusing to Your Customers

Three Ways Brand Messaging Can Become Confusing to Your Customers

Branding, Digital Marketing, Experience Design

Creating Consistent Brand Messaging that Resonates with Multiple Personas

Consistency of brand messaging can be difficult for an organization to achieve when its target audience includes multiple personas. These challenges include behavioral dependence in product adoption, identifying brand loyalty when defining brand personality, and finally, difficulty in delivering consistent brand messaging when organizations feel they need to have a voice in social/political matters.

1 – Create Product Adoption

Consistency in brand messaging strives to create product adoption among its target publics. However, this can be difficult when the same product is trying to be marketed to different buying segments (e.g., different age groups, different genders, etc.).  Also, how different consumers come to align themselves behaviorally to products can be a challenge.  In their book, Integrated Marketing Communications, Persuit and McDowell-Marinchak note that consistent brand messaging strives to trigger dependency in adults toward a product or service that is akin to a child mentality toward a product, where the product becomes part of the identity of the individual, and therefore part of how they view themselves.  An example of a product that demonstrates this brand messaging challenge is the mobile phone, as messaging needs to consider many different segments of the consumer market at the same time.  In other words, the adoption of mobile phones as an extension of our daily lives is so prevalent that companies must try to figure out how to deliver a consistent brand message that meets the needs of varying consumer ages and other demographics, yet still create a behavioral dependency on the product across these different groups.

2 – Identify Brand Loyalty

In a 2017 study by Chung and Park, the authors indicate that while organizations strive to increase brand loyalty through creating a brand personality, the target consumer can often become confused by the brand personalities of different organizations within the same industry segment. Organizations that can create consistent brand messaging are able to define a brand’s personality surrounding a product where the consumer aligns with this personality over similar competitor products. 

Growing up in Baltimore, several things defined us, including Maryland blue crabs, the Orioles, and the Colts.  The Colts were owned by a detestable individual named Bob Irsay who threatened to remove this cornerstone institution from the city that loved it if he could not get favorable terms for upgrades to their stadium.  This was back when mega-stadiums were just starting to gain popularity, and Irsay wanted part of it.  During that time, there were rumors in the press that Irsay was looking to move the team to another city with Irsay making grand public displays of denials regarding these stories.  Then, without any notice, Irsay had Mayflower moving trucks loaded in the wee hours of the night and snuck the entire Colts operation to Indianapolis.  In an instant, a part of the personality of a city was gone, and what resulted was confusion regarding what team the city might support. 

The National Football League responded that the city of Baltimore could simply start following another team, such as the Washington Redskins that were located forty-five minutes down the road, or some other team.  The problem was that the Redskins were generally hated by Baltimore fans and certainly did not represent the personality of this working-class city.  Oftentimes, a product has a personality that aligns to one segment of a market which means it cannot be the same for everybody.

3 – Deliver Consistent Brand Messaging

Socially or politically active organizations can have difficulty in delivering consistent brand messaging due to the divisive nature of politics.  This can lead to challenges in the organization’s ability to deliver consistent brand messaging.  In a blog post by Riley Gibson, the author suggests that consumers do not necessarily care about the origin of the message as much as they care about the consistency of the message that is delivered and how that message aligns with their customer journey. 

Said another way, customers often like a product and just want to buy the product without having to consider what that purchase means. Recently, Nike jettisoned its 4th of July tribute shoe since Colin Kaepernick called attention to how the Betsy Ross flag is considered unacceptable due to the nature of what that version of the flag means to different segments of the population.  Nike determined at that point to pull the item from stores and not sell the product.  While some individuals applaud the move as being socially responsible, others feel that if you do not like the meaning of the product, just don’t buy it. 

Either way, the political choices made by the organization collide with the brand messaging the corporation is trying to put forward, ultimately causing confusion for some consumers.  It begs the question of whether people should have to worry about what the purchase of a pair of shoes (or other products) means regarding their support of a social cause, or one political party over another.

Decisions Surrounding Brand Messaging Impact Your Audience

Each of these challenges is very real within brand marketing and can serve to create confusion among the different publics an organization is trying to reach.  Ultimately, an organization needs to consider the effect of the various public decisions they make and how that might affect the brand messaging they are pushing on the public.  Where decisions do not align with the brand messaging, confusion will occur, and segments of the buying community will be alienated.

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