Communication Basics: Sender

When you are making a communication plan you might think that your client is automatically the sender. But, often the target group does not know your client (or its organisation). Or the target group does know the organisation, but these possible receivers don’t like it; the organisation has a negative image. Then this is not the most effective sender.

Other brands as a sender

It can be useful to let another sender help. For example Nike is helped by Ronaldo. KitKat is helped by Nestlé, and vice versa. We call this endorsement. An organisation or company often uses the Endorsed Identity as branding strategy.


Brandscaping is another strategy in which brands help each other.

People as a sender

It is often useful to deploy people who the target group knows and trusts. In addition to unreachable heroes like Ronaldo, these can be bloggers and vloggers. But also acquaintances and heroes on social media are useful influencers (influentials). And don’t forget the offline influencers: friends, family, teachers, the doctor, etc. (Roles in the Decision Process)

Find the most suitable sender

Find the most suitable sender by finding out what the target group knows and feels for the sender. In short: find the image of the sender. This image will have a positive or negative influence on receiving the message. That is, if the image is negative the target audience might refuse to look to or listen to what the sender has to say. In case of a negative image the target audience will not receive the message, it will not pay attention to it.

If the image of the sender is negative you can try to make it positive by altering the identity. This is possible – identity is the strongest influencer of the image – but it will take years.

A quicker and therefore more practical way to deal with a negative image is changing the sender: use a different sender, a sender with a positive image.

Research-questions for analysing the Sender

Which person / brand can best be used as sender?

You can convert the following research-questions into interview-questions.

  • Which senders can the client use?
    • Which (sub) brands does the client have? (Think about branding strategy.)
    • What other brands does the client have good contacts with?
    • Which of these brands does the target group find attractive?
  • Which senders are most trusted by the receivers?
    • Who are influencers (online and offline) of the target group?
  • Which other brands fit to both the target group and the client (or its brand)?

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