Simple and clear storytelling. I’m not there yet with telling the story of what I do, but I’m working on it!
I have been honing my elevator pitch recently since I am pitching new accounts. I tested my new pitch at a creative group I belong to, and a wise writer sitting to my right rocked my world after my response to the query of what I do by disagreeing with me. I’m in marketing and advertising I said, I am a strategic brander, and not a designer really, no, I’m an art director and a creative director. Design is part of what I do, but that’s not really just all of it. I’m not a writer either, although that is part of what I do. Yes I do advertising, but that’s not all I do, I am a strategic communicator. “What does that mean?” Um, well . . . I come up with the big idea, and see that concept through the various mediums whether it is visually in an ad, a logo, or a direct mail piece, a website, an article I have custom written or creating a flash mob. I brand people, small, medium and large companies I said.
“Oh. You’re a storyteller” she said. . . .Pause. Shock, then the slow creaping realization. ooooooohhhh. Smart. Of course that’s what I do. Boiled down, make it simple to understand instead of using buzz words or making it complicated can help the audience paint the picture for themselves! Isn’t what I already do for brands?! Thinking about making things simple led me to reading an article by Adam Hansen at mmidentitylab.com. He wrote about the annecodote that someone once presented Ernest Hemingway with a very interesting challenge; they said there was no way he could write a worthwhile story in only six words. His response?
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Yes he was a writer, but he was presenting so much more than that, he was presenting a story, a concept, and that is what I do. I develop ideas wrapped around a company, product or a person. I do the behind the scenes thinking, work and the presentation to create the stories of the brand. If I am good at what I do, I could only dream of being as brilliant as Earnest in his presentation of a brand story. Why? It’s simple. Literally. That one sentence contains so much depth and possibility. If you’re an optimist, you could hypothesize that the shoes were simply the wrong size. If not, those words conjure up a much different image. Maybe it’s a note from a single mother that’s struggling to get by; maybe it’s a would-be father that just lost both his wife and his child in one fell swoop. No matter how you view that very (very) short story, one thing is clear: there is power in that simplicity.
An idea that is condensed to its very essence allows you to get your point across in a way that is succinct, meaningful, and memorable. However, minimalism isn’t reserved for literary legends. Take a look at some of the most prevalent brands around. You’ll find more than a few strategies and messages that accomplish more with less. For instance, LEGO—a brand that revolves around simplistic ideas—has always had taglines that are sparse yet effective. The brand has had only two slogans though out its epic 80-year run: “Just imagine” and “Play on.” Also, take a look at some of LEGO’s advertising; you’ll see that simplicity rules—and exactly why it works.
Here are a few questions that I use to create a simplistic strategy for each brand I am communicating for:
- Can I boil the business down to a few key words?
- Can this ‘story’ be told quickly or is it a teaser for a series of stories?
- What medium does this ‘story’ need to be told in? Words? Pictures? Both?
- Where does this ‘story’ need to be for the target audience to see it?
- What is the key singular idea behind the message in the story?
These responses build a strategy that harnesses the power of targeted simplicity and can create effective communication to the business or brands target audience. Harnessing the power of simplicity in brand storytelling helps businesses deliver potent messaging that resonates with audiences and makes an impact. This for me is the fun part, and I get to do this everyday! This is strategic communication. This is what I do.
How was my story? I’m still working on it! I’d love your feedback!