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Communication – A Vital Basic Need

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Need – A primary/ primordial requirement

In primary school, decades ago, we learnt that Air, Water and Food are vital for life. Shelter/ Clothing and Reproduction/ Procreation are also accepted as important needs. Need and Want may seem similar, but there is a difference. Need is more primary, Want, largely secondary. Nature creates Needs. Our thinking/ actions/ habits create wants, which Marketers leverage/ use/ exploit as the case may be. More on this aspect later.

Communication As A Basic Need

We believe that Communication should rank along with procreation and shelter. If one may say so, even ahead of procreation perhaps. Efforts towards Reproduction are more productive even in the non-human animate domains only with relevant Communication. Given the opportunity, both the sexes prefer to choose the more ideal among multiple available partners. It is only because one partner is able to communicate that it is fertile/ receptive or the other, that it is virile/ valiant etc that a bond is established, even in the non-human ecosystem.

Anything and Everything is Communication

Knowingly or otherwise, we communicate about ourselves and our ecosystem (including the environment) either by our action or inaction. Very often these are ‘messages’ we convey non-verbally. Cold, heat, joy, fright, pride, arrogance, submissiveness, kindness/ nobility to name a few, are easily communicated (or rather, not easily hidden). These emotions or states of mind are easily perceived by those around us.

The Emotional vs The Rational – still a puzzle for many

As mentioned above, Communication is a primordial activity and hence stakeholders of Businesses (beyond Investors/ Owners/ Managers) may easily draw inferences from messages targeted at them. These inferences may not be what the Communicator wishes to communicate in the first place. This happens because the audience receives the messages, through the filter of their very own fundamentally ingrained notions/ thought processes. Thus, what is explicit for the Communicator/ Brand Owner/ Marketer may not be for the receiver of the message. The receiver in most cases is NOT perceiving content with an 100% accent on the rational. However rational we may wish our target audience to be, unless the emotional is addressed (at least to an acceptable degree), the message may not really deliver the returns it could otherwise have.

Of Pink Industrial Robots and Grey Fluffy Toys

Imagine an Industrial Robot meant for heavy duty engineering work painted in pink or a fluffy toy for a baby in a greyish colour. Our money may not be on these, though these products may still attract a very niche market. Is there any rational reason for the pink industrial robot or the grey fluffy toy not to command market leadership? After all, whether pink or grey these respective products will likely be doing what they are supposed to be doing, if one views only through the lens of Reason, ignoring Emotion.

Need for a Holistic Understanding of Communications

Even as we write this, a few messages from Marketing/ HR / PR domains come to mind for their ‘eye-brow raising inanity’. The most lavishly shot visual or the most ‘creatively’ designed write-up may still not be able to deliver the impact expected if they miss some basics and they often do, unfortunately. There are multiple perspectives to be cognizant of.

So Little Time and So Much to get Correct – the First Time

Our Target Audience (at least in evolving economies) is growing thanks to population growth. However, the average attention span is shrinking. Communicators don’t have much time to get the first impression. Hence the added pressure to get the matter on view absolutely right.

Words, their positioning in the copy, the fonts/ colours/ schemes used, the inter-play of the words with each other need to be thought through (for starters at least). The overall message and whether it is in consonance with the Brand Imagery or Company DNA (unless there is a concerted strategy to change Direction) also needs more attention than is often given.

Corporate Communications – Boon or Necessary Evil

Corporate Communications is not a function to be pampered when the coffers are full,….. to be squeezed in a down-turn. Corporate Communications like HR and Finance has to be all pervasive and given time.  On its part, Corporate Communications cannot exist in a silo without understanding the DNA of the Organization or its Brands. To those actively involved in Communications, anything that either talks to or expects something from the S.P.I.C.E.(TM) naturally becomes a part of Corporate Communications. Hence the scope of Corporate Communications is as wide as the purveyors can make it.

The Medium (Conveyor) and The Message (Content)

The mediums we choose to communicate with/ on also play a role and with increasing Social Media flavours, communicators have a lot of options. Sadly enough, the importance/ thought given to mediums sometimes draws attention away from the core message/ content which needs to be communicated.

Positive Changes Witnessed

Corporate Communications is in a similar situation as the Human Resource function had been a few decades ago. Then, everyone who mattered knew the importance, but only a few enlightened firms realized and imbibed the HR essence, in Spirit and Deed. But these days one is not surprised to hear that besides the CEO and CFO, the CHRO has also become part of the board.

Similarly it is heartening that CXOs and Founders increasingly leverage Communication specialists. Whether it is in Learning & Development/ Human Resources in general/ Marketing Communications/ Sales Story Creation/  Dissemination of Leaders’ Thoughts (newsletters), there are many avenues for ‘evolved/ evolving’ companies to leverage holistically designed Corporate Communications. The more of these companies, the merrier. 🙂

Related Reading

6 needs of Life

The Right to Communicate

Decreasing Attention Spans

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