Why companies get their communications wrong

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

18 June 2014

All companies are communication companies

We are exposed to something like 5,000 marketing messages per day. To say that the competition for the average person’s attention is fierce would be a tremendous understatement. There is so much communications clutter that it is nearly impossible to break through – especially when you consider just how similar those communications messages are.

“Have companies really forgotten they must be communicators?”

I bet if you switched out logos from one brand with another, for the vast majority of products, you would be none the wiser. Within the category, most say basically the same thing and look basically the same.

Communications companiesLook at car ads. You have the urbanite ad, the family truckster ad, or the on-the-road adventure ad. Kia has tried to break the mold a bit with the Blake Griffin ads where he is some kind of super hero but those just come off as so sophomoric they are easily discounted.

The automotive industry is not alone. Beers, athletic shoes, energy drinks, banks, soaps, toilet paper, brokerage houses and insurance – with very few exceptions, they all look the same.


The simple answer is that most companies forget they should be communications companies.

Because they have forgotten this major tenant of their business, they do not have anything important and resonate to say to their customers and prospects beyond the traditional “we have the best widget.” To hide that fact, they wrap it up in humor, production values, gimmicks and sheer frequency, hoping to get some traction (at least in the short term).

Have companies really forgotten they must be communicators? No, they are still attempting to communicate something. But what they have forgotten or suppressed is that, to be effective communicators, you actually have to have something real to communicate.

Companies today spend untold amounts of money on communicating (remember the 5,000 marketing messages per day?). But what they fail to invest in is the message itself. That message can only come out of a strong brand that is reflective of the consumer’s beliefs and aspirations.

I do not know if they are scared to stand out or scared to actually have to stand for something that is truly unique. In any case, the market in practically any category is ripe for a company to look at communications differently and take market leadership.

See more posts in the following related categories: Branding Communications Messaging


  1. Mark D.

    The Geiko advertisements are a perfect example of empty messages covered by ridiculous humor. Marketing like this makes me cringe.

    • Tom Dougherty

      It is forgettable as well as nonsense. Geiko is successful because of a huge media spend. The humor is just silly.

  2. Mike Oz

    The part of it that many companies don’t understand is that 5,000 messages thing. Many think inside-out that prospects only see them. Truth is that they tune most of them out.


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