Integrated marketing communication (IMC) refers to the overall approach to marketing communication. The main objective of an organization that uses such an approach in its marketing communication strategy is to ensure that there is consistency in the advertisement message used by the different media. Organizations use both online and offline media in their communication. At the moment, a majority of the organizations have employed integrated marketing as a mechanism to enhance their brand-building process (Aaker 1996, p. 124), thereby helping to enhance the organization’s brand image.
Role of IMC in the brand building process
The ability of an organization to expand and retain its market depends on the brand image of such an organization. Accordingly, there is the need for an organization to effectively communicate its brand to consumers. One of the roles of IMC in the brand-building process is to enhance brand equity within an organization (Brad 2005, para. 2-5). Organizations make use of different marketing online and offline channels of communication for purposes of creating brand awareness in the market. This helps an organization to reach potential consumers, thereby expanding the market share of such an organization. Through integrated marketing communications, organizations are able to elicit favorable responses from consumers. For the existing customers, IMC helps in reminding them of the existence of the brand in the market. This helps in ensuring that the organization is been able to retain its existing customers. Organizations use IMC as a means through which their consumers can air their views about the products they offer. In return, the organization is able to improve on its brand to ensure that it effectively meets consumer needs (Cornelissen & Andrew 2000, pp. 7-15). IMC facilitates brand improvement by providing a channel through which an organization can have a dialogue with its target market on the products on offer in the market. By understanding the response the brand receives in the market, an organization can come up with strategies to improve its acceptability in the market.
Another role of integrated marketing communication is to enhance brand identity. There are numerous competing brands in the market. For organizations to be competitive, they have to make their brand stand out from all other competing brands. Apart from ensuring that they produce or repackage their products in a unique manner, organizations use IMC as a mechanism for enhancing brand identity in the market (Hutton 1996, pp. 155-163). Through different marketing channels, organizations are able to advertise their products thus making sure that consumers are able to identify them from other competing products. The use of IMC in product promotion ensures that there is consistency in the information passed to the consumers. As a result, it becomes easy for consumers to identify the brand from the rest in the market. Organizations are able to communicate the logo, package, name, and symbols of their brand to the consumers. IMC integrates different advertising channels. These assist organizations in comprehensively passing across information regarding their brand. Consequently, the brand becomes familiar in the market.
Integrated marketing communication helps in brand promotion. Through this method, organizations can evoke the features of the organization as well as its products. This helps customers to effectively understand the organization. Through IMC consumers can predict the efficiency of the communicated brand. This in return leads to them being loyal to the brand (Kapferer 1997, p. 221).
Example of a company that has used IMC to build its brand
Numerous organizations have used IMC in their brand-building process. One of the organizations that have used the strategy is Imperial Tobacco Limited (ITL). This is the largest tobacco manufacturing company in Canada. The nature of the cigarette market and the numerous regulations that tobacco manufacturers have to abide by a call for the identification of a channel of marketing that shall result in the cigarette products being readily accepted in the market. One of the ways through which this has been made possible is by building their brands among the consumers (McDonald 2005, para. 1-4). The company has identified brand identity as a means of enhancing its brand. Accordingly, the company ensures that all its line extensions have uniform brand meaning. In its brand promotion, the company uses the blue color and a Hero logo. The two gives the brand a margin of prominence and visual impact, making it stand out from the rest of the brand from competitors.
In a bid to enhance brand awareness, the company employs different channels of advertisement. These include billboards, televisions as well as blogs. Apart from ensuring that they have included the blue color in their billboard and television advertisement, ITL ensures consistency in the information communicated through the different channels. The company has embarked on the use of blogs to enable consumers post their response with respect to the ITL brand. In turn, the company uses the blog in answering questions send by their customers with respect to the brand. This has helped the company emerge as one of the most competitive tobacco companies in Canada (Reid 2002, pp. 37-48).
Increase in competition in the business world has led to the demand for brand improvement. Thanks to IMC, organizations can now build their brand equity and identity. In case of any changes in brand packaging, logo or name, organizations are able to communicate with consumers through IMC (Reid 2002, pp. 50-52). Consequently, consumers are able to identify the brand from others in the market.
Aaker, D. A., 1996, Building Strong Brands. New York: The Free Press.
Brad, D., 2005. Brand strategy and integrated marketing communication (IMC): a case study of player’s cigarette brand marketing.Web.
Cornelissen, J. P. & Andrew, P. L. 2000. Theoretical Concept or Management Fashion? Examining the Significance of IMC. Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 40, No. 5, pp. 7-15.
Hutton, J. G. 1996. Integrated Marketing Communications and the Evolution of Marketing Thought. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 155-163.
Kapferer, J., 1997, Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long-Term. London: Kogan Page.
McDonald, R. E. 2005. Integrated marketing communication (IMC) and brand identity as critical components of brand equity strategy: a conceptual framework and research propositions. Web.
Reid, M., 2002. Building Strong Brands through the Management of Integrated Marketing Communications. International Journal of Wine Marketing, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 37-52.