Guide To The Changed Marketing Lexicon

We assess how has the pandemic has altered the language of marketing today

Marketing is nothing but the right mix of words to bring about an impact in the overall communication strategy. And very interestingly, this language has been challenged with the arrival of Covid-19, conceiving a completely changed marketing wordbook to refer to. 

Like everything else, the pandemic impacted the marketing world in more ways than one- right from the way marketers communicate to the way consumers respond to the marketing mix. Language today conveys hope, optimism, empathy, family and home, something that consumers resonate with and respond to more than the earlier times. Brands too have been cognizant of the fact that this language of compassion is critical for them to connect with the consumers of today. 

“The marketing language across the globe has shifted to display a more compassionate approach, the tonality is more conversational and the messaging overarchingly has been that of offering comfort, support and assurance in these hard times. Being empathetic in ways that can resonate with our consumers is the need of the hour,” informs Abhishek Joshi - Business Head (SVOD), Head of Marketing & Business Partnerships at MX Player and MX TakaTak.

Raka Khashu Razdan, Head, Marketing & Communications, India, South-East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE also admits that there’s an uptake in adopting a ‘conscious communication’ model with higher than usual frequency, wherever relevant.

Giving us a distinct perspective is Rohit Mistry, Head - Business Development & Marketing, LIC Mutual Fund Asset Management who believes that the language has not changed as much as the medium. “Today customers are more familiar with our digital avatar than real us. Clients have got a flair of the kind of books I read as it hangs around in the background of my screen. Salutations have become more compassionate with ensuring families are safe at home, while the meeting ends with a request to take all necessary precautions.

More importantly, marketing language has evolved in the form of setup in which deals were being made,” he says. 

Bring On The Buzzwords

Unprecedented, pre-pandemic, post-pandemic, new normal, back to normalcy, low base effect… and the list goes on. Well, these are just a few of the buzzwords that the pandemic year has bestowed us with. 

For Sriram Padmanabhan, VP- Marketing, NMIPL, some of the overly used words the pandemic has given us include ‘unprecedented, fluid situation and amid or amidst’. These have been overused to the point that they have been reminding us of a reality which we don’t always want to be consciously aware of.

“I feel ‘authenticity’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘accuracy’ are the three big winners. Certain words have become key to express empathy, which is the biggest need of the hour. Empathy cannot be expressed if a brand is not authentic or true to its employees, partners, and customers. Empathy cannot exist without a sense of responsibility & honesty,” he adds. 

Unmisha Bhatt, Chief Strategist Officer and Director, Tonic Worldwide also suggests that ‘pivot, purpose-led, unprecedented’ amongst others, are terminologies that have become increasingly common today.

“One needs to focus on the intent and keep evolving with the times. The lesser the jargon, the better,” she asserts. 

So, What Is The Language Of Marketing Today?

Every brand has certain values that it exhibits while interacting with the customers. It has its version of ‘how to speak’, to stay relevant, innovative, and impactful at all times. The communication is made in a way that the tone comes out caring, especially amidst a crisis, without losing the essence of what it is as a brand.

In the current times, financial aspiration has taken a back seat and personal aspiration has taken the driving seat for most brands. “This is the time where marketers need to give a message of support, belongingness, and togetherness. A communication of ‘we are with you’ can do wonders to our relationship with customers. Hence, any communication to the client must have a compassionate touch. I believe such language if put across communication channels, will pave way for a long-term relationship,” states Mistry. 

Padmanabhan also approves that the brand and its partners need to be aligned on the values which they want to communicate and assess how customers in today’s world are likely to respond. “To make this happen, we must listen to our customers carefully and intently across all channels,” he urges. 

Bhatt advocates that one must not lose sight of the objective and format, not one size fits all. Also, certain guiding principles could be around avoiding being quirky, since it could be seen as insensitive. “Expecting a performance marketing creative to be empathetic might not make sense. But tonality could be less urgent, more functional and contextual. Similarly, a brand campaign also doesn't have to be empathetic across communication; one will have to bring a balance between brand personality as well as empathy and objective of communication,” she recommends. 

“Brands are adopting a more ‘people-centric approach to communication,” witnesses Razdan. 

He adds that empathy has been a key differentiator in a time when most brands had to build entirely new channels of communications to engage with consumers in a locked-down world. “Being customer-centric in the current scenario goes beyond a traditional communication strategy, it requires embedding empathy. Actions taken today offer a point of difference that’s of genuine relevance; it builds a level of customer confidence – ensuring sustained engagement and increased loyalty in the long run,” he further mentions. 

The past year has enabled us to take a step back and re-evaluate how we’re engaging our stakeholders. Brands are evolving their communication strategies to focus more on messaging that enforces trust and intimacy, and evokes a sense of camaraderie, togetherness, gratification, gratitude and safety.

At the same time, marketers are communicating a strong sense of their purpose—a cause that the brand stands up for, or any effort or initiatives a brand undertakes.

Empathy has been vital in bringing the customers closer to the brand. The brands that are adapting towards the value of ‘customer first’ are seeing higher engagement in delivering a better return on their investment.