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The present-day mist trustworthy and famous brands are markets by sustainable customer relationships created through experiences that induce a visceral response. In the same line, successful brands have created flexible and effective advertising strategies meant to adapt to the dynamics of the ever changing business landscape and customer needs. As a strategic move to create and sustain competitive advantages, most companies are complimenting their customer relationships and communication strategies with an innovative culture. The current paper explores various aspects of customer relationship management, communication strategy and innovation culture within the realm of marketing.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
One of the effective ways of understanding how CRM can be improved, especially through branding is examining the global brands that are popular among people. Apple, Amazon, Coca-Cola and Nike are some of the global brands that have succeeded in creating and sustaining customer relations. Amazon (AMZN) is the largest online retailer in the world. In addition, it is one of the most valued online retail brands, offering almost everything and posts high scores of individual and overall brand trust. This observation is no surprise because the company offers exceptional product accessibility and customer experience, which converge to build a strong online retail brand that consumers trust. Nike’s mission statement is not only an inspirational message, but also a mainstream appeal designed to connect the company to consumers globally. The company has always been consumer-oriented, with an accessibility that makes it a brand relevant not only to elite athletes, but also everyday person. The brand is oriented at self-empowerment and really appeals to everyone to “Just Do It.” In an era where the only certain thing in the automotive industry seems to be change, Ford has constantly branded itself as a beacon of reliability. The company has the most consistent brand as well as product strategy and innovation culture. Southwest Airlines is one of the low-cost airlines (LCAs) that have consistently defined their routes, creating unique personality through passenger seating configurations and flight attendants who improve customer experience and satisfaction. The Carrier has been an independent brand marked by breaking norms of the airline industry with an aim of improving its customer relations and profitability. At the core of its success is the fact that it has proficient operation that enables travelers to move in an efficient and affordable manner.
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From the examples discussed above, it is evident that branding is an essential aspect of customer relations management. In other words, firms can invest in their branding strategy as an effort to improve loyalty, customer experience and customer satisfaction (Hotchkiss, 2013). Brands can build strong and long lasting relationship with their customers through various means. By investing in customer relationships, an entity can stimulate loyalty and build long-term value. In addition, customer tend to invest their money, share higher referrals and conversion rates where there is a trusting and mutually beneficial customer relationship. All these benefits are an integral part for successful brands. To achieve strong customer relationship, a company should focus on engaging and rewarding customers, avoiding surprises and soliciting feedbacks, thus maintaining open communication channels (Sandberg, 2008). Healthy customer relationships result in effective communication. Moreover, an insight into customers’ feedbacks can help improve relationship by revealing problems and the manner in which they can be solved. In addition, it can help expand the scope of the products or services offered.
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Critical Elements of a Firm’s Communication Strategy
A communication strategy is an essential part of an entity’s daily operation due to framing its media activities, including external and internal communications (Hotchkiss, 2013). Additionally, the communication strategy clarifies organizational priorities, resource, target audience and human capital assignments. Whether an organization is large or small, public or private, the elements of communication strategy are similar. The communication strategy is propelled by its organizational goals, its vision as depicted in a mission statement, as well as its values and beliefs. The communication goal may include increasing the awareness of specific product and generating media coverage by improving relationships with the press. The mission statement is the cornerstone of the strategy in the sense that it drives the overall direction of media activities. The statement is often included at the beginning of the strategy to remind all the stakeholders that the media-related activities are tied to the entity’s vision and mission. Besides the goals, vision, mission, beliefs and values that form the central pillar of an entity’s communication strategy, there are other critical elements that are needed to construct that communication strategy. These include a written work plan, messages to be transmitted, material to be generated, financial resource, research, and understating of the target audience.
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Marketing communications is an integration of efforts entities make to influence and inform customers (Iacobucci, 2014). The term integrated marketing communications emphasizes the fact that promotion occurs beyond personal selling and advertising. In other words, marketing communications is a coordinated effort that covers public relations, direct marketing and sales promotion. Media activities, such as public relations and advertising, enhance the entity’s overall image, influence public will and advance its agenda. For this reason, companies need to focus on various factors while formulating their communication plan in broad sense, or more precisely their advertising strategy. Advertising is a critical element in marketing communication strategy that uses mass-communication channels to create awareness of a product or service. It is worth noting that no strategy is complete without an evaluation component as mechanism to make improvement over time and validate accountability (Capon, 2008). Thus, it is important to include various evaluation activities in the adverting strategy as a subset of the communication plan (Sandberg, 2008). Some of the evaluation activities that can be performed include analyzing media content as well as monitoring developments such as shifts in customer needs and public opinion.
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Most innovative companies appear to have a secret ingredient that makes them unique among their competitors. In other words, innovative companies have a distinct culture of innovation molding their innovation strategies alongside their overall corporate strategy. Such innovation culture is the bond that guarantees coherence between company aspirations and the means of achieving them. In a 2012 joint report by Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Booz & Company, it was noted that 46% of Bay Area companies agreed that their corporate culture supported their innovation strategies (Jaruzelski, Le Merle, & Randolph, 2012). The Bay Area is characterized by Apple, Cisco Systems, Google and Symantec Corporation among others. These innovation leaders are characterized by the culture of innovation. When a company introduces an innovation culture, consumers become more trusting and loyal because of the underlying perception that the company is an expert in the field or industry in which it operates. Consumers tend to equate product or technological innovation with expertise. This notion can be exploited by globalized brands to improve their brand trustworthiness.
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Apple is one of the companies that keep the public and the media waiting eagerly for all its product releases. The perception is that whatever the product is released, consumers trust and believe that it will not only be sleek and smart, but will also improve the way they work, communicate and entertain themselves. Similarly to Apple, Ford and Amazon, Nike’s constant innovative product development, including the introduction of Dri-Fit fabrics and Nike Air Cushioning technologies serves as its competitive advantage. These firms are beacons of innovation culture. That is why other emerging brands should borrow from them in effort to improve their innovation environments.
The competitive business landscape has pushed companies to value and foster innovation culture as a means of creating new or improved processes, products, and services, and eventually a competitive advantage and profitability. In addition, companies are increasingly focusing on innovation as a channel for improving productivity and performance (IRISS, 2012). One of the outstanding aspects of innovative companies like Apple is the investment in research and design. Moreover, the company embraces teamwork. In the business environment, innovation is a process through which new ideas or products are generated. Transformational leadership and creativity are the key elements of innovations because they initiate the innovation process. Individuals serve as principal components of the innovation process. For instance, in Apple’s context, it is the employees that are well placed to identify and define customer problems. Additionally, it is the same employees who are able to generate creative ideas or introduce innovations with commercial potential. In fact, innovative organizations, such as Ford, Apple and Google among others, are supported by a team of competent individuals collaborating to generate ideas and develop innovative solutions (Jaruzelski, Le Merle, & Randolph, 2012). Building an innovative project team is a critical process that plays a significant role for the success of innovative organizations. Some factors that enable innovation or success of innovative companies include strategic partnership, effective leadership, as well as client’s commitment to sustainability, mutual trust, regular meeting and repeatability of the project.
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Successful global brands are marked by innovative culture, effective communication strategies and sustainable customer relationship. In the same context, brands, such as Nike, Apple, Amazon and Coca Cola, put emphasis on building strong emotional relationship with their customers because it is powerful and effective. When a firm improves its communication strategies, innovative environment and customer relationship, it develops a strong business with long lasting positive results.