Short and sweet. It seems such a simple concept, keeping things concise and to the point, but when it comes it comes to the crunch, many of us can’t help but be verbose. Whether it be in an email or an essay, we struggle to keep our words to the bare minimum, adding unnecessary phrases or flowery language. Have you ever read an email that could have been summarised in a sentence, but went on for three pages?
Even CEOs, when asked to summarise their company, will likely bombard you with a litany of ideas and phrases, while often failing to accurately encapsulate what they do. Ask what makes their product the top pick and they may struggle even more. But what you are asking should be one of the first things CEOs can describe about their product: its value. For a company to have a successful product, they should be able to sell it quickly and emotively to a perspective customer.
If you want your message to be memorable and valuable to the customer, you need to remember a few key things:
Keep it short and simple
Customers are not going to wait around for a long convoluted message about your product. If it’s short, it’s easy to retain the attention of the customer. What’s more, as has been proved time and time again, short and simple is easier to remember when you no longer have them in your thrall.
It’s not about you
Talking about how great your product is will only get you so far. Customers are inherently selfish – they only want what works for them.
Appeal to their needs
If customers only want what works for them, appeal to these needs – help them save time or money, help them make money, or make things easier. Choose what your product helps your customer do, and emphasise this.
Don’t make it difficult
When making a choice, it’s difficult to remember all the facts between your different options. Customers will not make the effort unless there is a distinct difference between your product and another. Emphasise for your customer clearly what makes your product different.
Choose a tagline. You can use this incredibly effectively to get your point across.
Here are a few examples and the value they are selling:
- Nike – “ Just do it.” Such a short slogan, encompassing the main idea of the company – doesn’t matter if you haven’t exercised in a while, if it’s raining, or you’re not sure if you’ll be good at it, have confidence, and “just do it.”
- Apple – “Think different.” This is only two words, but along with Apple’s “Here’s to the Crazy Ones – Think Different” campaign, it sets Apple up as a company that’s not afraid to be the first, or be different, lending users the same empowerment and feeling of specialness.
- McDonald’s – “I’m lovin’ it.” This captures the way you’re supposed to feel biting into a McDonald’s burger – it’s not necessarily good for you, but you love it.
What about the taglines for some of the Australia and the world’s banks?
- “CommBank Can”
- “Life’s better when we’re connected”
- “It’s possible to love a bank”
- “Humanising financial services”
- “Do Better”
Do these taglines represent what the bank is selling? Is it clear what the customers will get from that bank? Could one tagline be used for other banks? Does it sell more than one thing? Does it try to rally customers? Taglines may not do all of these things, but a good tagline should try to do more than one. The tagline should be honest and not confusing. If your brand is interchangeable with another, it is more important than ever to have a tagline to distinguish what you do.
Just as outside a company you need to have a concise tagline, internally, your company information should be concise and memorable. That way your employees know what to do, especially in periods of change and growth. The CEO should be able to simplify a mission statement to the masses within 10 words. Even in complex situations, it’s important to focus on communicating value. This may not be the simplest task, but making things concise is difficult. Simplicity is rarely simple.