Though definitions of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) vary from source to source, the general idea remains the same. The principles of IMC essentially require branding and marketing messages to be consistent across platforms. IMC is absolutely not a new concept, though it could easily be argued that as new digital marketing channels crop up, particularly in the field of social media, integration of communications becomes ever more important. Well managed IMC can strengthen your brand, thereby raising brand awareness and increasing profits.
In order to implement this method of marketing effectively, the matching luggage approach, in which your communications simply have the same appearance, just isn’t going to cut it. Of course, aesthetics do play a role – ensuring that your logo and branding are recognisable across all formats, including web design, is undeniably important. There’s just so much more to IMC than simply using the same colours and shapes in both digital marketing and print materials.
Though it can often be difficult to apply academic approaches to marketing to real life campaigns, Pickton and Broderick’s 4 Cs framework is a great checklist to work from. In order to be considered effectively integrated, marketing communications should be coherent, consistent, complementary, and have continuity.
So, what exactly does each of the 4 Cs refer to?
Coherence and consistency are perhaps the most obvious elements of the 4 C checklist. Coherence covers the requirement of marketing messages being logically connected. Communications which can be considered consistent will not contradict other messages pertaining to the brand.
The continuity aspect requires communications to be coherent and consistent over time. A prime example of the importance of continuity is the regularity with which rebranding attempts actually do more harm than good. Though keeping up with trends is important, ensuring that your brand is recognised from year to year is also essential.
Communications which are complementary build on one another, ensuring that the campaign as a whole is stronger than the individual messages which contribute to it. The idea that all communications support one another is a core factor in IMC, and is where the true value of this approach to marketing comes from.