Public Relations Tactics

The Power of Communications: Once Upon a Time, a Brand Became a Story

June 1, 2016

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[shutterstock]

For just about every product or service out there, there are thousands of brands for consumers to choose from. The challenge is to get them to pick yours. First, grab their attention. Second, become a consideration. And finally, turn into a purchase. “Easier said than done,” as my abuela said.

U.S. Latinos are known to be loyal to brands from generation to generation, and although tradition is still important, its meaning has shifted for millennials and younger generations. Consumers are more integrated and more educated — they look for quality, brand experience and a lifestyle. As head of a multicultural Hispanic PR agency, I strive to ensure that the work we do for our clients is Latino-centric, and resonates with the diverse groups within our communities and across all generations.

Hispanic consumers are smart, savvy, price conscious and driven to products and services that speak to their cultural background and heritage. For example, my abuela drove a car for years and passed that car down to my mom. From the time I celebrated my quinceañera, I knew that I wanted the car they both had. It wasn’t because I particularly loved the style or that it was passed down through the generations; it was because of the memories that it held. I remember watching the commercials about that car — they portrayed a family like mine.

Fast-forward more than 25 years, and there are now many more options for me to choose from: eco-friendly, fewer emissions, electric, faster, bigger, cool features, cloud-connected, pink. Name a car feature, and it most likely exists.

Forging relationships

This is where the brand meets its storyteller. Brands are not just selling you a name or product: They’re selling you family, culture, generations and, most important, experience.

PR professionals must dive deep to understand their markets and create media strategies with a cultural movement. We must build long-standing transgenerational relationships, regardless of the myriad of choices available to consumers. As a Latina entrepreneur and a consumer, I understand the importance of experimenting with new brands to compare value. What is it that brings us back to the brands that we’re so familiar with?

Latinos are part of the fabric that threads this country together. Although we are proud of and embrace our heritage, we are fully integrated and acculturated in every aspect of the American lifestyle, which is why advertisers are consistently boosting their efforts to reach the U.S. Hispanic market. Advertising Age’s Hispanic Fact Pack 2015 reported that the “top 50 Hispanic marketers increased spending by 17.6 percent to $3.8 billion.”

To understand the relationship between a brand and its experience, it is imperative to engage and retain Hispanic consumers. It is our job to give the brands compelling stories that reflect their uniqueness and appeal to the Latino culture and personality.

By creating emotional bonds with consumers through scenarios and engaging stories, we can take them on journeys filled with experiences that will transcend generations and create lifelong memories. Brands are no more than names in this time and age. Yet consumers have become more critical and cynical in the midst of social media trends and as part of a generation that looks at brand loyalty and trust very differently than they did in the past 20 years.

Mastering the journey

The ever-changing nature of media through technology is hard to conquer. For marketers pushing a brand, it takes endless awareness-building to find ways to captivate audiences through seductive content, by creating strong visual images and ensuring consistency with in-culture language. Each platform brings a story of its own. From strategy to execution, we already know that we have to harness the power of digital media to meet our clients’ objectives — not just from a cultural point of view, but a generational one as well.

Digital media allows us to connect in ways our parents and their parents thought was impossible. It is important to enhance each medium, from videos with the ability to recreate a memory, photographs that immortalize a moment in seconds and radio that takes us back to the sounds of childhood, to applications that create simple solutions to big problems.

Crafting stories that are tailored for consumers while embracing their culture and generation will help maximize the experience. When we influence the behavior of consumers, they become advocates of the brands. In our PR role, no matter the area of specialization, we have to consistently become culturally savvy storytellers using words, images, sounds and smells that relate to multicultural, multigenerational markets.

It may or may not be obvious that there must be a multicultural strategy to help advance the growth of a brand experience, but it must come from a culturally intelligent expert who understands the value of the experience and is able to bring it home to consumers as seamlessly as possible. This means taking into consideration personality attributes that create a bond, and strategies that will build long-lasting relationships.

Embracing a new family member

Selling a product or service is one thing but, as PR pros, we want to engage consumers in innovative ways. Here’s what I suggest:

  • Serve as a bridge between the brand and the consumer. No story becomes a legend without a good storyteller.
  • Exercise cultural intelligence and diversity to help create experiences that embrace culture and generations, and satisfy the needs of the markets.
  • Tap into multicultural backgrounds through wholehearted, sincere scenarios that will speak to different cultures and lifestyles.
  • Remember that engagement leads to long-lasting memories.

Consumers want more than an experience — they want a journey to fill with memories, and our products and services will need to create those stories. Throughout our client work, we make sure that building the brand experience in such a way that it gets noticed, and results in lasting memories, is among the key objectives of a plan. That means:

  • Find tools to engage the consumer, whether on mobile devices, digital channels, TV screens or print media.
  • Apply your deep understanding of the market and the contributions of that target audience.
  • Integrate communications solutions so that you are able to deliver measurable results.

It is no longer enough to rely on brand loyalty through generations when targeting Latinos.

Today’s PR approach must be one that understands that Latinos — as is the case of general market consumers — want quality, variety, a lifestyle, as well as a brand that speaks to their heritage and sense of family. As the millennial generation is looking for brands that will help them create memories, the baby boomers are looking for brands to remember theirs. It is the PR professional’s job to ensure that the message is delivered in ways that stimulate the consumers’ senses, as part of a journey filled with experiences.

Gloria Rodriguez
Gloria Rodriguez is the founder, president and CEO of Comunicad, LLC, a full service cross-cultural public relations and marketing firm that specializes in multicultural communications and engagement. A PR industry pioneer, Gloria serves on boards and advisory groups at national Latino organizations and institutions. Follow her @GRnapo and @comunicadpr.

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