Communication through Silence: Part I

Does your “silence” mean you stop communicating to others? For brands, this is not the case.

Silence can be interpreted in different ways based on culture, timing and context. This subjective dependency has actually made “silence” more difficult to understand than just plain communication. We will consider silence in two situations: one for during good time of a brand and the other one for during bad time of a brand.

A good quality brand launching in the market with bare minimum promotion, afterwards turns itself silent, might have two consequences of its silence. First, once consumers are satisfied after using this brand, they would spread the message through words-of-mouth, so silence of a good quality brand does not mean “no communication”. We can term this as “passive communication”. There is one advantage and one disadvantage of this approach. Words-of-mouth is very credible and authentic communication, so the brand might find itself being promoted by customers themselves without actively spending money on expensive campaigns by the company. The biggest disadvantage, for which this approach of being silent for good quality brands is not recommended, is the nature of competition in the market. Even if you are silent about your good quality brand assuming that viral messaging will be running, you are forgetting the fact that competitors would also be promoting good quality brands without the kind of “silence” that you have. In this war of Good vs. Good, or Better vs. Better, the “talking and visible” one is most likely to win, not the “silent” one.

We will talk about silence during bad time of a brand in the next post.


About 1mmarketing

Working as Associate Professor, School of Business, United International University, Bangladesh; a North-American graduate, with doctoral studies from UUM, Malaysia; cherishing a wide-view of the world, with multiple interests in culture, people, traveling, and specifically marketing science. I have a colorful and diversified background with a blend of corporate experience, research, consulting, training, public speaking and teaching. I love to write about marketing issues that affect our lives, and talk about its direction that would promote the greatest human welfare.
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6 Responses to Communication through Silence: Part I

  1. Abdullah Al Mahmud says:

    I think at the good time when they are depending on passive communication,at a time to do active communication they can do low cost promotions. Such as, print ad,bill board etc.

  2. Moitree Rahman says:

    Well now a days brands can speak up through different mediums. If they are silent in terms of one medium not necessarily means they aren’t speaking up in other way. For instance, if brands are silent in the ATL medium, they might be very vocal in terms of BTL. Well, i can relate this example to HSBC bank which is apparetly in silence mode in the ATL medium, but they speak up through their BTL activities (HSBC Bhasha protijog, and many other CSR activities) . What do you think?

    • 1mmarketing says:

      Excellent observation. This happens a lot. How about B2B promotion? Also, a number of tooth powder brands do this at rural level, where you see no national level advertisement but lots of promotion at grass-root level through various BTL activities.

      • Moitree Rahman says:

        Here is another catch. Regarding the example of the tooth powder, may be those are local players/local brands just operating in that particular area, catering to only that place. For this brand its universe is that rural area, its not a national brand so we can’t term it as being silent because its not actually competing at the national level.
        Please share your views.

      • 1mmarketing says:

        Thanks for your comments. Yes, it happens a lot. If a local brand is promoting only in its “locality”, then it is actually promoting into its own “universe”. For example, you will find personal selling of local brands like “Elephant” brand D size batteries in greater Mymensingh area. You will not even see any poster, bill board, or any other type of promotion except that the delivery vans visit once a week in few areas and sell whatever they can to local stores. How many of us know about this brand at national level? So they are not actually silent because they are promoting at a different universe. On the other hand, some local brands could be almost silent as compared with other competing brands, most likely because they think they do not need active promotion, and most times I found them happy with their “status quo” sales. One such brand could be “Lizard” brand mosquito coils found in Savar area. (you will find many funny sounding brands at district levels). There are numerous local brands in the category of washing soap and bakery items.

        However, the problem with dental powder is that, not all rural brands are local. Unlike local brands, who can be silent at times, there are brands like “Bidyut” which is vigorously promoted in rural areas all over Bangladesh. This is apparently a silent brand, in fact it is not. In many cases, I found Bidyut even more vocal than Unilever’s Pepsodent tooth powder, which Unilever is not actively promoting (I mean the way they promote), probably because of the risk of brand dilution along with Pepsodent toothpaste. This is rather promoted(?) through display alongside Magic tooth powder, to give a fighting notch to its rival. Really interesting!

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