Scale Matters In Marketing: Communication Strategies For Unconventional Business People

An effective communication strategy starts with a clear brand identity by defining clear boundaries and compromises your brand will not take in the marketplace. Based on that, understanding whether context, formats, and scale are in line with your business message to prevent a loss of identity.

What business communication is about?

One of the key tenets of content syndication is you take a piece of content, break it down into small parts, and spread it around several platforms when you do that you amplify your message.

This kind of thinking isn’t only limiting but dangerous for whoever is trying to build a successful marketing strategy.

Primarily an effective communication strategy should start with clear brand identity and look at the following:

  • Context: What kind of behaviors does this type of communication and platform incentivize?
  • Format: What format is available on that platform?
  • And scale: How fast can a message spread on the platform, given the context and format?

In this article, I want to highlight some thoughts hanging in my mind about communication for business.

Let me tell you why.

Clear brand identity? It’s about what you’re not about

Usually, a clear brand identity starts by identifying the core values. And that is fine.

But in reality, a strong brand identity starts by setting clear boundaries around what you’re not about.

Therefore, make sure to define the compromise your brand is not willing to take in the marketplace and make sure you comprise that in your message and treasure it as the most valued asset.

For instance, “FourWeekMBA is not about quick business education for the sake of it; it’s about the minimum dose of business education that leads to action, rather than paralysis.”

So from a negative statement, a positive outcome is born.

Preserving your brand identity is the key to an effective communication strategy to prevent your message from getting lost.

The message is the context

A message has meaning based on its context it sits.

Communication between two people, it’s not the same as a group chat, where more complex social dynamics kick in.

Therefore, when communicating, it’s critical to understand the context the message is getting delivered because the same message delivered through different contexts changes the meaning.

The same words spoken within different contexts are not the same message!

If you are at a company retreat and you’re giving a motivational talk to your employees, that might be well received and understood in that context (remember, you might be sharing the same company’s culture).

The same speech recorded and shared across social media can be disastrous.

Not only will the communication change from one to a few (the boss and its employees) to many (people sharing it on social media) but the message get out of the context it was thought for, thus changing its whole meaning.

When that happens, things can get messy. That is why it might be better to avoid any sort of communication there, rather than wanting to be “innovative” yet risking a complete disaster.

The format is the message

Another element to take into account is the format.

An article can be summarized in a post. But while an article can conceive several ideas, a post will communicate a single, clear idea.

That is why taking the same message to spread it across different platforms won’t work.

Sometimes, a message can be adapted to several formats, but that is not always the case.

For instance, an article can be adjusted and summarized in a LinkedIn post.

However, a LinkedIn post to work has to have certain features that make it aligned with the platform dynamics.

For instance, on LinkedIn, a short story might work better to conceive the idea of the article.

In short, if you have a short story within the article, you want to start from there to amplify the article.

Therefore, the question becomes whether using a format that a platform makes available (on Twitter, for instance, tweets and tweetstorms work well, on Instagram, stories go viral, and on TikTok, duets spread quickly) is in line with your communication style.

You can adjust the message to fit the format without using its essence.

But remember that if the message scales, the more it does, the more it might change its original meaning.

Are you ready to take that risk?

A tweetstorm is not a blog post

According to some, the first tweetstorm appeared maybe when venture capitalist Marc Andresseen broke the boundaries of Twitter’s 140 characters a new format on a new platform was born.

While a tweetstorm might seem just like a short-form article, it’s a completely different form of communication, and that’s due to the scaling of the message.

When a tweetstorm gets released, the fact that its length is that of a short-form article might trick you into believing it has the same property. Yet they are not the same thing.

A tweetstorm is a one to many, only at the moment, it gets shared.

Yet at the moment that spreads, that same tweetstorm will become a many-to-many communication, and the message you once controlled and it was yours will be adjusted to the scale it reaches.

Thus, if you have expressed an idea that is prone to be understood by a small group of people, are you sure that the tweetstorm is the best place to start?

In short, to keep the same property of the message, probably a newsletter would do the job way better.

Network effects and scaling

When a message scales, it changes its core properties.

That also implies a change of meaning on the other side.

That is why it’s important to understand how prone a message is to scale, given the context, format, and platform where it gets delivered.

A blog post has a different scaling propensity than a Twitter post or a TikTok video.

A newsletter, for instance, is usually a one-to-one communication and remains so up to a certain extent (unless you launch the same message to hundreds of thousands of people).

Why does it all matter?

Context, format, and scale influence your communication, and based on the message you want to deliver, it’s essential to know what you’re doing to prevent disasters.

Because while we all want to communicate on the web, and most of us do at an amateurish level, it’s also important if you’re building a business, to understand the hidden risk of communication done wrong.

Key takeaways

  • When communicating, you are explaining to people your identity, why you exist, and what your business is about. This helps to build your business’s personality, what marketers call a brand.
  • A brand is valuable as it enables a business to scale beyond the person who created it. In short, people can also relate to an abstract entity, called a brand, as soon as they can perceive this abstract entity has human-like features.
  • This demands your communication flow align with what you want to conceive. The era of digital platforms seems to demand brands to be there just for the presence’s sake (everyone is there, so I must be too).
  • That makes small brands, but also larger ones, fall into the trap of losing their message just because they adapt without too much thinking about the format the platform offers.
  • We saw in this article how context (what kind of behaviors the platform incentivizes?), format (what format is available on that platform?), and scale (how fast a message can spread on the platform?) could change the meaning of your message altogether.

This brings a loss in translation, which can translate into a loss of brand equity.

Therefore, before committing to all the platforms out there, ask yourself:

  • Is this platform in line with my brand identity?
  • Is there a format available on the platform which will enable us to preserve the meaning of the message?
  • How prone is the message to scale? And if it does, would it lose its original meaning?

Key Highlights

  • Importance of Clear Brand Identity: An effective communication strategy starts with a clear brand identity, including defining boundaries and compromises the brand will not make in the marketplace.
  • Understanding Context, Format, and Scale: Communication strategies need to consider the context in which the message is delivered, the format available on the platform, and the potential scale at which the message might spread.
  • Brand Identity and Boundaries: A strong brand identity involves setting clear boundaries around what the brand is not about. This helps in preserving the brand’s message and preventing it from getting lost.
  • The Message and Context: The meaning of a message is influenced by the context in which it is delivered. Different platforms and situations can change the interpretation of the message.
  • Adapting the Message Format: Messages may need to be adapted to fit the format of different platforms, but it is essential to ensure the essence of the message remains intact.
  • Scaling of Messages: As a message scales and reaches a broader audience, its original meaning might change. Understanding the scaling propensity of a message is crucial to prevent any unintended consequences.
  • Understanding Network Effects: Different communication formats have different scaling propensities. Blog posts, newsletters, tweets, and videos all have different impacts when they reach a larger audience.
  • Importance of Communication Done Right: Effective communication is vital for building and maintaining a brand’s personality and identity. Miscommunication can lead to a loss of brand equity.
  • Alignment with Brand Identity: Before using various platforms for communication, businesses should consider if the platform aligns with their brand identity and message.
  • Preserving Message Meaning: Choosing the right format on each platform is essential to preserve the original meaning of the message and prevent any loss in translation.

Read Next: Lasswell Communication Model, Linear Model Of Communication.

Connected Communication Models

Aristotle’s Model of Communication

The Aristotle model of communication is a linear model with a focus on public speaking. The Aristotle model of communication was developed by Greek philosopher and orator Aristotle, who proposed the linear model to demonstrate the importance of the speaker and their audience during communication. 

Communication Cycle

The linear model of communication is a relatively simplistic model envisaging a process in which a sender encodes and transmits a message that is received and decoded by a recipient. The linear model of communication suggests communication moves in one direction only. The sender transmits a message to the receiver, but the receiver does not transmit a response or provide feedback to the sender.

Berlo’s SMCR Model

Berlo’s SMCR model was created by American communication theorist David Berlo in 1960, who expanded the Shannon-Weaver model of communication into clear and distinct parts. Berlo’s SMCR model is a one-way or linear communication framework based on the Shannon-Weaver communication model.

Helical Model of Communication

The helical model of communication is a framework inspired by the three-dimensional spring-like curve of a helix. It argues communication is cyclical, continuous, non-repetitive, accumulative, and influenced by time and experience.

Lasswell Communication Model

The Lasswell communication model is a linear framework for explaining the communication process through segmentation. Lasswell proposed media propaganda performs three social functions: surveillance, correlation, and transmission. Lasswell believed the media could impact what viewers believed about the information presented.

Modus Tollens

Modus tollens is a deductive argument form and a rule of inference used to make conclusions of arguments and sets of arguments.  Modus tollens argues that if P is true then Q is also true. However, P is false. Therefore Q is also false. Modus tollens as an inference rule dates back to late antiquity where it was taught as part of Aristotelian logic. The first person to describe the rule in detail was Theophrastus, successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school.

Five Cannons of Rhetoric

The five canons of rhetoric were first organized by Roman philosopher Cicero in his treatise De Inventione in around 84 BC. Some 150 years later, Roman rhetorician Quintilian explored each of the five canons in more depth as part of his 12-volume textbook entitled Institutio Oratoria. The work helped the five canons become a major component of rhetorical education well into the medieval period. The five canons of rhetoric comprise a system for understanding powerful and effective communication.

Communication Strategy

A communication strategy framework clarifies how businesses should communicate with their employees, investors, customers, and suppliers. Some of the key elements of an effective communication strategy move around purpose, background, objectives, target audience, messaging, and approach.

Noise if Communication

Noise is any factor that interferes with or impedes effective communication between a sender and receiver. When noise disrupts the communication process or prevents the transmission of information, it is said to be communication noise.

7 Cs of Communication

The 7Cs of communication is a set of guiding principles on effective communication skills in business, moving around seven principles for effective business communication: clear, concise, concrete, correct, complete, coherent, and courteous.

Transactional Model of Communication

The transactional model of communication describes communication as a two-way, interactive process within social, relational, and cultural contexts. The transactional model of communication is best exemplified by two models. Barnlund’s model describes communication as a complex, multi-layered process where the feedback from the sender becomes the message for the receiver. Dance’s helical model is another example, which suggests communication is continuous, dynamic, evolutionary, and non-linear.

Horizontal Communication

Horizontal communication, often referred to as lateral communication, is communication that occurs between people at the same organizational level. In this context, communication describes any information that is transmitted between individuals, teams, departments, divisions, or units.

Communication Apprehension

Communication apprehension is a measure of the degree of anxiety someone feels in response to real (or anticipated) communication with another person or people.

Closed-Loop Communication

Closed-loop communication is a simple but effective technique used to avoid misunderstandings during the communication process. Here, the person receiving information repeats it back to the sender to ensure they have understood the message correctly. 

Grapevine In Communication

Grapevine communication describes informal, unstructured, workplace dialogue between employees and superiors. It was first described in the early 1800s after someone observed that the appearance of telegraph wires strung between transmission poles resembled a grapevine.

ASE Model

The ASE model posits that human behavior can be predicted if one studies the intention behind the behavior. It was created by health communication expert Hein de Vries in 1988. The ASE model believes intention and behavior are determined by cognitive variables such as attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. The model also believes that intention predicts behavior such that one’s attitude toward a behavior is influenced by the consequences of that behavior. Three cognitive variables are the primary determinants of whether the intention to perform a new behavior was sustained: attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. Various external variables also influence these factors.

Integrated Marketing Communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Social Penetration Theory

Social penetration theory was developed by fellow psychologists Dalmas Taylor and Irwin Altman in their 1973 article Social Penetration: The Development of Interpersonal Relationships. Social penetration theory (SPT) posits that as a relationship develops, shallow and non-intimate communication evolves and becomes deeper and more intimate.

Hypodermic Needle

The hypodermic needle theory was first proposed by communication theorist Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book Propaganda Technique in the World War. The hypodermic needle theory is a communication model suggesting media messages are inserted into the brains of passive audiences.

7-38-55 Rule

The 7-38-55 rule was created by University of California psychology professor Albert Mehrabian and mentioned in his book Silent Messages.  The 7-38-55 rule describes the multi-faceted way in which people communicate emotions, claiming that 7% of communication occurred via spoken word, 38% through tone of voice, and the remaining 55% through body language.

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

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