You can’t hammer a nail in sideways – you have to have a point, and the sharper the better. Focusing on the main one or two reasons people should buy from you helps create a powerful brand and makes it easy to know what you stand for. Further, whatever your brand’s core value, it must jump off your ads, brochures and web. People might have time to read one unique selling proposition; they won’t have time to read ten. If you’re lucky, they might even remember one, they certainly won’t remember ten.
Most companies want to jam their ad full of as many messages as possible because they want value from their advertising budget. However, more frequently, they end up creating an overly cluttered message and no clear take-away point. When there are so many messages crammed on the page, your viewer will pass by the ad in favor of something easier to decipher. Selling one point is easier than selling ten. Two is better than five.
Remember the telephone game where you sit in a circle and whisper a short story into the next person’s ear? By the time it gets passed all the way back to you it’s unrecognizable. Play this game and whisper ten of your company’s benefits into the next person’s ear and your message will come back unrecognizable too. Whisper one core value of your brand and there is a better probability your message will come back to you exactly as intended – clear and on-target.
As with most agencies, when we work with a client to create a new ad campaign, brochure or online campaign we begin the process with a creative brief. In this brief, one of the most important pieces of information we need to ensure effective communication is the key takeaway – the singular key message you want the viewer to remember.
Reducing your brand strategy to a single idea or word is the most effective approach to your marketing. It’s similar to what happened to coffee shops, for example. A couple decades ago in a coffee shop you could order a cup of coffee, some home fries, and an omelet or pancakes. You could get a pastrami sandwich, shake and fries for lunch, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a slice of pie for dinner. Then comes along Starbucks®, and completely redefines what a coffee shop is by selling one thing: coffee. They eliminated 99% of the typical menu items to just coffee and became hugely profitable by doing so – $6.2 billion dollars last year, while barely spending any money on advertising. Focus and singularity equals profits. Most companies believe they have to expand the line and add more items to create growth, however, doing so creates a more diluted and confusing brand; the market doesn’t know what you stand for, or why they should buy from you.
For another example, look at department stores. The huge, behemoths of the past have been struggling for years – and the lists of ones who’ve bit the dust just get longer and longer. May Company®, Robinsons®, Fedco®, Montgomery Ward® and others have found they can’t compete with stores that focus their line. They’ve found that trying to be everything to everybody ends up being nothing to nobody. By avoiding the everything-to-everyone trap, focused brands like Gap®, Banana Republic®, Pacific Sunwear® and Tommy Bahama® know that a tight, focused brand creates a message people can remember.
You don’t have to sell to everybody and don’t be afraid to exclude some people or markets. A successful politician states what he or she stands for and isn’t afraid to cut some voters off. They understand by trying to acquire certain voters, they will turn others off. A politician who tries to say yes to everyone ends up looking weak and wishy-washy – not a leader people will vote for. Plant your flagpole in the ground, so your markets will know where you stand and what you stand for, and they can see you from miles away.
In advertising, marketing and strategic creative, clarify your objective, distill your brand to its singular core value, reduce your key message to one or two points, and communicate it clearly to create growth, sales and profits!
3 tips to keep in mind:
– Keep it singular. Communicating one point is more powerful than communicating multiple.
– Your brand’s core value should be the most obvious message on your ads, brochure or other communications. Make it clear, quick and easy to understand.
– While you’re saying it, don’t forget to show it. People see and react to visuals first and, if interested enough, then they’ll read your ad.
Kevin Daniels is a Principle rabble-rouser at Ruckus Creative, llc, with 20 years in advertising and marketing.
Ruckus Creative is a results-driven, full-service creative and branding agency
“Business results through strategic creative.”
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Ladera Ranch, CA 92694