In this day in age, you say one dumb thing and it can be misconstrued in so many ways. The language you use, the tone and voice plays a critical element in how you, your brand or company is viewed by the public eye. Take for instance GM CEO Mary Barra, who in early 2014 was faced with addressing a problem she didn’t ask for – but was tasked with putting the fire out. To get up to speed with what Barra had to deal with, click on this link to get the back story. It was this video above that really showed she was willing to admit fault on behalf of the company she was now figure head. How she responded was nothing short of brilliant and hit a lot of key points.
Assessment of the company’s tone, voice and language selection
GM CEO Mary Barra’s video message to GM employees on March 17, 2014 addressed the ignition switch recall crisis. It was the first communication Barra addressed on the recall issue.
In regards to her tone, Mary was transparent with her plan to combat the challenges that awaited her company. Her tone demonstrated awareness of the issue, as well as determination with proceeding with progress steps moving forward.
Her voice was authentic, her authoritarian presence was felt. Barra acknowledged the severity of the issue at stake, while providing a path of strategies for her team to implement. Her voice was confident, stern and demonstrated leadership qualities.
The language presented was done with a formal tone. She did not use complex vocabulary or super detailed insights, but rather focused on an overview plan instead. Barra spoke in a language that all employees of GM could understand – all the way from the top-level executives to the hard-working men and women staff on the assembly lines.
Tone, voice and language selection as I understand it
I thought her tone was consistent throughout the video communication. As for her voice, I was not fully convinced she came across as sincere as she should have, it sounded like she was most likely reading from a teleprompter. And for her language, I thought it was appropriate for an internal communication that was sent to staff and would eventually be picked up by news media outlets.
If I wrote her online apology letter, it would look like this…
Audience: Puma is a long standing German sports apparel and footwear company founded in 1948. Their products have an established identify, notably in Track and Field and especially in the Soccer industry. In recent years, the brand has struggled to remain relevant with consumers. Lack of identity and style are notable factors. Since 2014, Puma has stated that one of their primary key strategies is to improve their female division if they want to compete with the likes of adidas and Nike.
Puma introduced a new women’s streetwear product line in 2016. For this concentrated target audience, the brand is focusing on the 18-24 age group. They want to appeal to the stylish, chic, trend setting and fashion conscious customer. Spearheading the campaign is brand ambassador and creative director Rihanna. The international songstress is a notable style icon with over 201+ million combined followers on social media. In addition to the signing of socialite Kylie Jenner last year, Puma has a duo of formidable influencers for their advertising campaigns to help grow their targeted streetwear audience.
On the men’s side of things, last fall Puma signed R&B superstar TheWeeknd and in March 2017 inked rapper Big Sean to help appeal to their young male audience. And most recently, Puma scored a major sponsorship, teaming up with rap icon JAY-Z for his upcoming “4:44” tour. While it looks like Puma has a concentrated strategy on working with some very big names in popular culture today, there will always be consumers at different stages of the life purchase cycle where they might face resistance. Let’s take a look at them.
Communities disruptors affect the Consideration stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.
Economic disruptors affect the Purchase stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.
Personal Situational Factors affect the Awareness stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.
Emotional Situational Factors affect the Desire stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.
Communities is the conversation of the same idea with two different groups that have two different meanings. In this example, an 18-year old female will converse with her classmates on the it factor of purchasing Rihanna’s Puma x Fenty collection and how stylish the attire looks. A secondary conversation with her parents can turn into a discussion of price, cost and affordability. This simultaneously becomes an Economic discussion where the parents and daughter get into a debate of need vs. want. Both Communities and Economic elements have a disruptive influence. They can change the sentiment course on the decision-making process from considering to buy, to ignoring the purchase completely. Puma’s target audience is affected from these mentioned disruptors thanks to overall negative sentiment.