Simplicity. As Clare Booth Luce once said, "it's the ultimate sophistication."
Take a look at any brand perceived as being very sophisticated, and chances are, they've refined their message into a expertly, elegantly simple maxim.
In fact, navigating their website and other brand materials feels kind of like relaxing on a remote beach: you're not driven to distraction by things that just don't matter.
Easy to appreciate. Much harder to do.
When it comes to business, simplifying your brand message can be more elusive than it seems at first glance.
After all, you've got something to say. Lots of somethings. You know it deep down in your soul that your business was created to address a burning need (or three, or five or ten) that you see in your market.
Yet there's just one problem.
Of the 25 ideas in your head, you've got to pick one to build your brand.
Or more likely, you've got to figure out which of your 25 ideas actually ties all the other ideas together.
Do that, and you'll have a much easier time sharing and selling your message. Mostly because customers (who are inundated with brand messages everywhere they turn) will remember it better. Simplicity, in other words, can help you sell.
Simplicity stands out, often more than any other aspect of your brand.
So what's the simplest path to a simple message? Especially if you've been in business awhile, are contemplating a rebrand, and are wondering which of your brand messages or offerings is really most important to focus on going forward?
Which one is going to catch your ideal audience's attention and convince them to buy?
Glad you asked.
Below, I've outlined the simple process I use to help figure out what's really at the core of a brand. Carve out some time on your schedule, grab a pen and paper, and get ready to simplify!
Step 1) Perform a content audit
To start unpacking your brand message, you've got to start with unpacking what you've actually said about your business to date. And that takes an audit.
Audits aren't just for accountants. You can do one, too, for your business messaging—with a little time, a little digging, and your super-awesome Data Hunter hat.
By auditing your brand message, you're be more consistent and compelling going forward."
So pull up all the blog posts you've written and client feedback you've received. Peruse those old ebooks. You might even want to pull up sent emails where you've talked about your company or examine old pitch materials.
Basically, gather any resource that you wrote that can provide clues as to how you explain your brand.
Reach each piece thoroughly. Ask yourself some questions as you read and write down your answers. (Writing does great things for our brains. Don't skip that part!)
- What themes or ideas appear 5 or more times in your writing?
- What themes or ideas appear 5 or more times in your clients' responses, blog comments, or other feedback?
- Which categories and tags have the highest number of associated posts on your blog?
- What types of your social media content gets the highest engagement (and what are the key topics discussed in that content)?
Now review your findings for each of these questions. Is the data scattered, or are you sensing some themes? Can you distill those themes down into a few key words?
Step 2) Ask your clients
Once you've performed your content audit and have reviewed the results, it's time to check your findings against your audience's impression of you. We live with ourselves every day and often can't see in ourselves what others do.
Your brand is rooted in you, but how you're perceived by others determines your success."
If you can, arrange to have coffee or a quick phone/Skype chat with some of your past clients. If you don't have many, then ask trusted business friends who know have spoken regularly with you about what you do.
Have your content audit findings in your back pocket for mental reference, but don't share them with your interviewee. (You don't want to "condition" their responses.)
Instead, simply ask him/her some questions:
- What words come to mind when you think of me and my business?
- What was the greatest value you feel I provided for you?
- How would you describe my products and services to someone else?
- How would you describe me and my passions to someone else?
Take copious notes on their answers. Thank them for their time (and don't forget to buy their coffee!).
Now, take these answers plus your personal content audit. Start cross-referencing for common themes.
Where are the answers alike and where do they diverge? Which words are used more often than any other? Can you narrow down three or fewer main common points between your content audit and your audience feedback?
Great. Now let's narrow it down even further.
With these points in mind, it's time to subject ALL your feedback to my highly-scientific, time-tested hypothetical filter:
The deserted island test.
Step 3) Take the deserted island test
Sometimes it's helpful to put ourselves under some pressure to figure out what's really important. With the content audit and phone-a-friend under your belt you might be getting a serious clue about your simplest, most impactful brand message. But in case you aren't, let's force all that data to come out in a single sentence.
By compacting your brand message into a single sentence, you can more easily refine it."
Here's how it works:
Let's imagine you're on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean, and you've been there for quite awhile. Food and fresh water are running low. The one palm tree on your beach just died, and you're totally out of sunblock.
But as it happens, your ideal client is about to cruise past in a motor boat. You've got ONE opportunity to shout ONE brand message (sentence) to your client to get their attention and save the day.
What is that one brand message?
While the illustration may seem a bit dire, you get my point. The average length of a sentence in English 15 words or less. That's not very much time to say something that matters. It forces you to be really, really clear on what you want to say.
If you only had 15 words to get a new customer's attention, what would you say?"
Putting it all together
Now let's look at where you're at.
You've started with your own brand message, then funneled that down to test it against how others express your value. With that info together, you've taken a stab at a simplified brand message.
The great thing is, of course, that you can continue to refine that sentence. Share your revised brand sentence. Get reactions from those you trust. Revise and re-craft as necessary.
But don't feel that you have to go it alone.
Does all this sound overwhelming? Especially if you're about to rebrand, you've got enough on your plate right now. I'd love to come alongside you, providing that outside eye and decade of brand messaging expertise to help you simplify your ideas and refine your core brand statement.
Learn more about getting brand simplicity through the Fire Tender Experience.
Not sure you're ready for a rebrand but want to explore how your brand can help you captivate clients and close more sales? Snag a free consultation. What are you waiting for?
Until next time, speak freely.
What's the most confusing aspect of your brand message right now? Where do prospective clients get "tripped up" and not understand what you're saying? Share below.
Ready to expand your brand and your audience by crafting a more powerful message? Schedule your FREE 1:1 consultation here.