Every communication matters.
Whether it’s a social media post that could go viral, a billboard, a direct mail postcard, or your statements or invoices, companies should invest wisely in ALL of their communications. Every touch point someone has with your organization is an opportunity to grow or diminish your brand. While one piece of communication grows and strengthens your brand and its core messaging, the next one – if ill-prepared – can have a tenfold negative impact that turns consumers or potential clients away from you.
One of the most often neglected touch points organizations have with their customers are transactional communications. These are things like statements, invoices, official notices, and other accounting communications that deliver information specific to the recipient. Their sole purpose is to deliver that information, which a programmer often pulls from a database personalizing each individual letter, postcard, or email. This type of communication delivers the information perfectly, but they also deliver something else, which is the brand identity of the company it’s coming from.
Often times the brand identity lives at the top of an organization. Closely guarded in the C suite, utilized by the marketing team and graphic designers, and discussed by the founder at the company picnic, but does that brand identity get shared with the programmer who set-up your transactional communication? One easy way to tell is by looking at an organizations marketing mail versus their transactional mail. Do they look the same or are your recipients getting mixed messages? If they don’t, there was probably a disconnect between the brand and the IT department that sorted out the variable data components of your mailing.
In order to stay consistent with your branding, the same high level of design and execution should be used across all of your transactional print and electronic communications. It should match your brand guidelines and deliver the same feel as your most successful marketing pieces do. A few things to remember when crafting your transactional communications:
1) Utilize brand colors. Saving money by trying to print black only communications will end up costing you in the long run in brand authority. Now, your customers probably won’t go running for the hills the moment they open a non-color statement, but you’re missing an important opportunity to further your brand. Branding is a long-term investment.
2) Use similar language and tone. Your customers interact with you in a number of ways, and your company probably spends a lot of energy crafting great copy for marketing materials and scripting wonderful customer service interactions that keep people coming back. Unless you’re bound by some legal or regulatory need to use very specific language that deviates from how you normally speak to your customer or member base, keep your wording in line with your brand.
3) Layout is essential.
Regardless of branding, you probably try your best to always be clear and concise with all of your communications – the same goes for transactional. Work with partners that understand the psychology of transactional documents and know how to craft layouts that work. Printers are great at this because of the heritage the industry has in forms design. If your printer has a Certified Forms Consultant (CFC) on staff, their knowledge of document layout can be leveraged to ensure great readability.
4) Images that connect. Transactional print doesn’t have to be bland. Fantastic imagery can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the overall look and feel of your document. Well placed and high-quality images can support the message you’re trying to convey or be used to deliver other corresponding information or highlight a call to action. Color and clarity are key points here. With the rise of ink-jet printing, some mailers are seeing a downgrade of image quality. Make sure your ink-jet provider is giving you the maximum resolution and ink coverage to on images to avoid faded or blurry print. You might want to consider checking out a digital option as well. Digital always gives a high-quality image, and many times stack up well to ink-jet in terms of price due to production efficacies.
Protecting your brand should be at the heart of every printed or electronic touch point you have with your customers, clients, or members. If you follow the guidelines above and connect all of your communications with your overall brand message, the results will show. Customers become more engaged and enthusiastic, you gain brand recognition, and most importantly you’ll sleep better at night knowing you’re not leaving something on the table with statements, invoices, or other types of messaging that doesn’t connect.
ABS can help you on this brand unifying journey. We’ve spent years helping organizations send out unified communications that look, feel, and sound like they’re all coming from a single source. From design and layout all the way to production and mailing, ABS delivers a partner-approach to all of our customers that ensures your brand communications connect every step of the way.