Why your business needs to be heard

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A classic VW beetle washed up on the shore, shot on a Hasselblad medium format camera, golden hour, dramatic lighting, long shadows –ar 16:9 –seed 4000

What matters more in business, being visible, or being heard? They might sound the same, but there is a BIG difference.

Being visible is what companies like Coca-Cola do really well. They dominate every advertising channel with the intention of being visible to everyone. Yes, the messages change and the ‘segments’ are nuanced, but the investment in exposure is always the same – massive.

Why do they do it? Because Coca-Cola was one of the first to notice a trend towards soft drinks and 127 years later, they can proudly say that they own a huge slice of the market. By outgunning everyone else on advertising using the immense resources they have accumulated from being the market leader for so long, they make it much harder for anyone else to take any of that slice away.

But that doesn’t mean they are invulnerable. Because the problem with using the heavy marketing artillery the way Coca-Cola do is that people stop listening. I COULD WRITE THIS WHOLE SENTENCE IN CAPITAL LETTERS USING EVERY DESIGN TRICK IN THE BOOK!!!… but eventually you will get bored and tune out.

If you want to be heard, you need to get someone’s attention. To achieve that, you have to earn it. That means building something that has real value and taking the time to understand exactly who is going to benefit.

Coca-cola may have real value, but not everyone appreciates it and the more they use a scattergun approach, the more they turn people away. There are lots of people who want something completely different – a small army of willing listeners waiting to hear a new story that they can believe in. The only problem is, they are an army who don’t know what they should be listening for. That’s why it is so critical that your message clearly cuts through the noise of the most established businesses. Otherwise, you just become an inaudible blip in the background.

In the end, being heard is infinitely more desirable than being visible, because when people hear you, they understand you and when they understand you, their connection to you becomes more powerful.

That’s why even in markets dominated by the might and power of companies like Coca-Cola, there will always be room for a business that builds something incredible for an audience that really cares.

About the author

Dave Holloway is a highly experienced brand designer in Leeds (UK). For 16 years, he ran a multi-award-winning creative agency working on a diverse range of projects for world-class clients. He now works in collaboration with creative agencies and directly with brands across the globe.

Whether setting the direction through intelligent brand strategy, or tactical execution through digital and offline channels, he helps businesses of all sizes to communicate more effectively. If you have a branding or web design project you’d like to discuss, please get in touch.