The communications gap

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The communications gap. This is the most important consideration for any design or marketing communications activity, with the principles going far beyond graphic design.

So what is it? Quite simply, it’s the gap between what customers think (or assume) about you, and what you want them to think. It’s the starting point for all the thinking around brand communications, and it should happen well before any design or marketing activity takes place.

For startup businesses, this question is more straightforward, as there are no existing preconceptions amongst their target audiences. This an opportunity not to be missed, as these businesses are free to establish a strong and unique positioning for their products or services, differentiated from the competition. For established businesses, the picture is not so simple. For example, if a company wants to challenge perceived misconceptions about its business, or it wants to communicate changes to its products or services, the task will be more difficult. Whatever the starting position, what must be clearly defined by companies and creative service suppliers is the ‘communications gap’:

‘what do they think now?’


‘what do we want them to think?’

Having defined the communications gap, companies have something to say. Good design and marketing practitioners help companies to get to this point, where they can face their markets with a positive message. All the resulting communications can now use the information on the ‘gap’ to inform the creative work, which will have a clear communications strategy behind it. From client to creative agency, everyone will have something against which the creative work can be compared and assessed. If desired, it can also be market-tested before going public.

For me, the ‘gap’ is what creativity is for. It’s where design can come alive, by providing clever and interesting communications ideas that demand attention and change minds. It’s what design can do for business.

For more on the ‘gap’, look at this Yahoo Business this article, ‘The Surprising Gap in the Modern Customer Experience Business’.