I saw a great photo online the other day. It was a train station map in China, with a translated common English phrase, “You are Here.” Unfortunately, they put this phrase under every location on the map.
This is a common mistake we see in brand messaging. Many companies grow service offerings over time, add new products, and rework old ones. Perhaps the market has changed and the company has expanded into a new category. The problem occurs when all these services, changes in direction, or offerings get an equal voice and position on the website, brochure, or sales presentation. These marketing pieces become a five-pound bag with 10 pounds of bullet points, messages, voices, and design. Essentially, they try and tell the audience, “You are Here” at every point in the conversation.
Just like a well written book or a well designed road map, brand messaging should lead the audience through the story from A to B, not throw every chapter on the first page. It is important to allow your readers some elements of discovery while directing them along clear lines. Let them know what you find important in three lines or less and allow them the permission to find the information they feel is relevant. If your company can’t decide what is important about your product or service in three lines, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Attention spans have become even more fragmented over the past five years. We now think and speak in sound bites and text messages. We have so many different sources of aggregated data pushed at us every day that few people have the time to read your carefully crafted five paragraph sales message. If you don’t clearly communicate the value your company provides in the first few lines, they’ll move on.
The key to making your message concise is to truly understand what your audience is looking for and finds important about your particular service or product. Too often companies overlook that simple formula and instead say everything they can so they don’t miss anyone. This “more is better” philosophy may be ending more conversations than it’s starting. Be sure to keep this in mind the next time you take a close look at your company’s brand messaging.
This post is co-authored by Brent Eastman, Creative Director with Identity PR and brand management specialist.