Is your brand message magnetic... or mumbo jumbo?

In marketing, everything starts with a strong Voice Identity. It’s your brand message that clearly articulates of who you are, why you’re different and why people should care. When developing a brand message:

Magnetic happens when you keep things simple, you’re authentic and you exude a fresh and unique quality.

Mumbo jumbo happens when you try to please everyone, especially a number of chiefs, and opt to play it safe.

In developing a Voice Identity, the more cooks you have in the kitchen (especially with Fortune 500 companies), the harder it is to keep powerful messaging intact. In fact, I would argue that it’s nearly impossible to create a truly brilliant Voice Identity by committee. That’s why it’s important to work with people one-on-one, or directly with business leaders.

A company’s Voice Identity articulates who you are and why you’re different. Magnetika uses the terms Voice Identity and Visual Identity to represent the two fundamental elements of a corporate identity. The Voice Identity covers the written and spoken “voice” of your company. A Visual Identity is different. It refers the visual part of your brand. More on that later.

The best Voice Identities are:

  • Authentic
  • Relevant
  • Simple
  • Fresh
  • Compelling
  • Clear

When developing a Voice Identity, here are a few things to keep in mind:

It’s harder to be simple than it is to be complex

This might seem counterintuitive, but condensing a great deal of information down to its essence to reflect what is truly unique and differentiating about your brand is no small feat. It’s easier to be wordy.

Less is more

Write what you want to say and then take every possible opportunity to take words out. Be relentless. If you can’t hear a brand message once — and repeat it —it won’t stick.

“Safe” language is not compelling or memorable

Often when a brand message is brought in front of a committee, people can’t seem to help suggesting language that everyone else is using. A personal pet peeve is the word “solutions.”  (See also “avoid jargon like the plague”). In approximately 90% of the executive interviews we conduct, some well-meaning contributor will reply to our question: What is unique about your company? Their answer: “We provide solutions.”

Back in the 1990’s when I was early in my marketing career in the tech industry, “solutions” seemed to be a newish and smart word… at least to me. Maybe it was in 1990, or maybe it was simply that I was new in the business world, but I’ve heard “solutions” used in business every day since. While it has a good meaning, and is “safe,” (sort of like umbrella insurance coverage), it has lost all ability to attract.

Don’t fall into the “complexity seems smarter” trap

Other than the scientific field, which takes highly trained talent and a special brain to comprehend, complexity has no business in the written and spoken word. If you’re trying to sound complex to seem smarter, it may impress some, but it won’t inherently draw people to your brand. 

The Gobbledygook Syndrome

When developing a Voice Identity for clients, I lightheartedly refer to messages with excess technical terms or jargon as “Gobbledygook.” It becomes a bunch of nonsense and means nothing. Gobbledygook is language that is made unintelligible by excessive use of obscure technical terms. Lawyers are notorious for writing gobbledygook. Ever had to read a legal contract? It’s almost impossible to understand. If you want your message to be memorable, don’t let gobbledygook enter into your Voice Identity.

Avoid jargon like the plague

Many words are so overused they have become meaningless. As an example, the overused word “resources” tends to dehumanize a business especially when it refers to people. And it’s certainly not inspiring.

Jargon sneaks up even with phrases we kinda like. For one of our clients in the air and gas industry, we heard a few things as differentiators: flawless execution (already claimed by many companies), dependable (we’ve heard that too), so we changed it up and put two words together, that don’t usually go together. Instead our client, Rocky Mountain Air offers “Flawless Dependability.”

Compelling Voice Identities are always simple, fresh and authentic. Apply the law of attraction to your business and clearly state who you are and why people should (really) care. 

Compelling Voice Identities always stand out from the crowd. With a carefully crafted message that is simple, fresh, relevant and authentic, your company's voice will become powerfully magnetic.