One of the reasons people trust friends and families, or strangers on the Internet, more than what a company says about itself is that companies don't speak simply.
According to Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer at Corporate Visions, "One of the biggest problems that brands have to deal with is fluff. Brands have to keep things simple, and they've got to keep things clear."
This is why it's imperative for any company to have vision, mission, values, and strategic positioning that are in alignment. It any of these are not in alignment, then the prospect and the customer is getting an incongruent message.
This lack of consistency breeds confusion and erodes trust.
Following are nine steps to take to ensure your brand message is simple and clear:
- Avoid buzzwords. You may use buzzwords to show that you are knowledgeable about the latest trends in an industry and this may be relevant when speaking to others in your industry. However, consider the relevance to your customers and prospects.
- Avoid, or at least explain, acronyms. Each industry has its own set of acronyms. Using them, without defining them, potentially excludes anyone who is not up on the latest acronyms of the industry.
- Think customer first. Your message should focus on the customer and what problem you solve for them. If you're not sure what that is, ask them.
- Target. You message is much more likely to get through if it's timely and relevant. It's much more likely to be quickly deleted or ignored if it's not. With all of the targeted display advertising I receive from Zappos, I'm amazed their emails are not targeted in the same way. Their display advertising is more relevant to me than their emails; however, I still like seeing their values everyday.
- Simplify. To quote Albert Einstein, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." This goes for branding and communications.
- Don't develop messages by committee. By including everyone's comment or point of view, you typically wind up with mindless words.
- Energize. Does the brand message emanate from the mission? Are you clearing communicating the brand promise?
- Avoid puffery. Is the benefit tangible or easily understood? Don't overestimate the value you provide. Again, look to your customers to learn how they describe the value they receive from your product or service.
- Make it a story worth retelling. Stories are memorable and memorable stories are retold -- to others via word-of-mouth and frequently via social media. If you can create a powerful, emotional, beneficial story for your customers, they will tell others for you.