Integrity is not just an image

Companies must live up to their brand identities, says Roger Trapp

ADVERTISING has always relied on either reflecting consumers' tastes and concerns or articulating their aspirations to sell products and services. Even those "zany" commercials that do not obviously push an inner-city loft lifestyle or seek to play on the yearning for rural bliss make a sort of subliminal appeal to consumers who like to see themselves as out of the norm.

But the problem for advertisers and their clients is that everybody knows they are being manipulated. And in a world where consumers are much more sophisticated than they were, faced with having to make choices from a range of suppliers who are really not all that different from each other, there is an acute need for something else.

That "something else", it seems from recent trends, is "reputation" or "integrity". Advertising and marketing people talk about getting across the message that even the most frivolous of products can evoke such values. After all, shoppers vote with their wallets for companies such as the Body Shop or Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream that, although selling non-essentials such as cosmetics and ice cream, seem to stand for something.

But if you are to take this tack - and not make the public totally cynical - you have to ensure that the image being portrayed is matched by what really happens in the company. Which is why allegations of child labour levelled at Marks & Spencer (which has just won a libel award in just such circumstances) are much more serious than if they had been made at an organisation that did not try to present a caring, socially-responsible image.

Accordingly, it is not a good idea if the advertising agency is presenting a company in a certain way, while its employees are getting a different message from any internal communications there might be. From this realisation it is but a small jump to the idea of integrated marketing.

Commentators have talked of such activity for some time, but only relatively recently is it becoming substantial. Large media groups, such as WPP, have bought agencies specialising in everything from identity, through traditional advertising and promotion to marketing strategy in an attempt to offer the full range. Agencies have appeared - most recently one called Circus - that set out to offer the full range of communications activities under one roof.

As a new book on this growing field points out: "IM (integrated marketing) is based on the fact that everything a company does, and sometimes what it doesn't do, sends a message."

The book - Driving Brand Value by Tom Duncan and Sandra Moriarty (McGraw- Hill, $24.95) - says this approach recognises and responds to the increasingly acknowledged view that everyone in an organisation has the potential to "touch" the customer. The authors, specialists in marketing at Colorado University, set out three key differences between integrated marketing and traditional marketing concepts: first, shifting the emphasis from acquiring customers to retaining and developing them; second, communicating with rather than just to customers and stakeholders; and third, expanding the marketing remit in organisations so that it becomes more a business philosophy than a function.

They claim that true IM goes far beyond the "one voice, one look" style so far relied upon. This approach has generally failed, they say, because it focuses on tactics and talks to rather than with customers.

Creating and nourishing brand relationships - a key part of IM - is much more strategic. And, as it is closely involved with how an organisation is actually structured, it cannot be left simply to those in marketing. Indeed, four of 10 basic drivers of brand value identified by the writers relate to integration within the organisation. Two concern the corporate focus on relationships and stakeholders. Only four are actual process strategies.

By talking about stakeholders and brand equity, the book shows the extent to which the concerns of the Centre for Tomorrow's Company (see below) - marketers, institutional investors and consumers - are becoming intertwined. In this situation, no one group can insist it is taking the lead: they must all learn from and listen to each other. Accordingly, perhaps the most powerful message in the book is the reminder that "brands exist in stakeholders' heads and hearts, not on the sides of packages - those are simply brand names and logos".

By remembering this a company sees the need to become more integrated. "Its interactions become more consistent, its reputation more distinct and its stakeholders more trustful,"- in short, integrity.

Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Junior Research Analyst - Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £25K: SThree: SThree Group has been well estab...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform