Breaking through the blather

These days we’re all buried in clutter. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, the blogosphere.  Information is constantly coming at us over the floodgates.

The amount of information we see, hear and read every day has mushroomed a thousand-fold.  That makes the task of creating a unique message that breaks through the clutter even more daunting. In a world where a clever video or a scandalous piece of news can go viral in a matter of hours, how does one get a message through the over-information pipeline?

The vehicles for delivering marketing communications may have changed, but I believe that the four basic principles of good communication that I was taught many years ago as a student at Art Center are still as relevant as ever. If your message doesn’t contain all of these elements, it probably won’t get through.  And it certainly won’t have staying power.

1.    The message must be CLEAR. If people don’t understand what you’re saying or selling, they’ll turn the page, click away, or hit the delete key. This is the first rule of good communication and it doesn’t matter what medium the message is in.
2.    HONEST. Another way to put it is “authentic”. Your audience knows when you’re not being straight with them and they won’t buy it, whether it’s on a billboard, a web site or skywriting.
3.    BELIEVABLE. If something seems “too good to be true” it probably is. People  have learned this, so if you make your message believable, you’re more likely to get a believer.
4.    MEMORABLE. This is where the creativity comes in. It’s the most difficult of the four requirements to get right, but it’s the one that makes all the difference. You absolutely need the first three, but you can’t break through the clutter without this one.

I’ve spent most of my career working to master #4, and it continues to challenge and excite me whether I’m designing a home page, a banner ad, a brochure or an idea for a sales promotion. Getting this one right is what successful careers—and brands—are built on.

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