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Simple Message Design Lessons from 6 Top Global Brands. SAY it RIGHT!

The Globe |

You can do a lot of things right — the right team, the right product, even the right timing. But if you get the language wrong, this faux paus could kill your brand before you get out the gate. Marketing messages designed for relationship are the life blood to small business. 

After looking at the Interbrand list of Top 100 Brands for 2012 six decisions stand out. They are the kind of moves you can make on any budget.  After all, message design always begins with your thinking. Let’s see how these six companies think and adapt their strategies to our personal and professional brands.

1) Make short and sweet work for you.

Your message begins with your name. Make it easy to say and remember. According to Brian Clark, and the Google Analytics statistics on my own sites, the most searched keyword for websites is often the brand name. Once people know what you offer, when they want what you have, they tend to search your name. More often than not visitors search copyblogger when looking for, grittywriter when they want, and apple when they want Apple computers, etc.

Having a memorable name matters (of course, you have to give people a reason to remember you, but that’s a different subject). The #12 Global brand of 2012, is a German automobile company named Bayerische Motoren Werke AG or Bavarian Motor Works in English. The brand, however, is simply known as BMW. Now, I can remember that and spell it correctly without looking twice.

Consider these other short and sweet names:

  • Apple,
  • Google,
  • Starbucks.

See a pattern? Of course, your name doesn’t have to be this short, but if you can say it in two or three words, that’s much better a 7-plus-word-ongoing-brand-name-that-not-even-your-mother-will-remember. I’m just saying, in many cases, short is sweet.

2) What’s in a name?

It can’t just be “cool.” Your name has to mean something. Besides, cool is often in the eye of the beholder, and holding and using any given product has a lot to do with how we feel about it. Apple, for example, would just be a piece of fruit (probably a lemon), if the product was a piece of junk. And Canon would only be a weapon of war, if the camera wasn’t so effective at snagging a shot.

Effective message design exposes what a company stands for and what it does for others. So, after you have a name you have to put something inside of it. The meaning will come from what it does for people, what people say about it and how effectively you spread the word.

I mean, what is a Coca-Cola? The meaning comes from the branding experience. They not only put a brown sugary drink inside that can, they put “open happiness” in there too.

What’s inside your brand? For Coca Cola there’s refreshment, fun, music and football-playing polar bears. For more on this check out:

3) A name isn’t the only bite-sized message design tool you’ll need.

Every product, brand, business, etc, needs an explanation of who they are and what they do. While those explanations can go on for days, they don’t have to. You need a tagline — it’s an effective message design tool. But it takes effort to narrow your description down to seven or eight clear and simple words. But that effort can pay off, if you take the time to do it right.

Apple makes a habit of this strategy. They seem to love a well placed tagline:

  1. “think different”
  2. “1000 songs in your pocket”
  3. “the computer for the rest of us”
  4. “the internet in your pocket”
  5. “go beyond Vista: it’s time to get a Mac”

And BMW doesn’t have as many taglines, but they’re working the one that they do have. For more on this check out:

  1. BMW’s Simple Message Design Strategy — Branding 101 and
  2. Marketing APPLE — 3 Message Design Decisions Every Brand Has To Make.

4) Tell the world! — but how to start

If you fail to share it, message design is like singing in the shower, only you get the benefit. Of course, there are many shower singers that probably need to stick with their audience of one. But your brand is a different story. You need attention. To get that attention you need to share your message.

Once you have a name, a quality product, a tagline that makes it easy to share with others, it’s time to get the word out. Top global brands, like Apple, have top dollar budgets. But they also use some simple and affordable tools like social media and website marketing. In fact, Apple uses their website to fully explain what they have to offer, how it will change your life and where to buy.

An effective website is crucial to small business owners, artists and writers as well — at the least it creates a home to continue the conversation. It’s a place that your target audience can dig in to and gain a better understanding of what you can do for them.

In other words, regardless of the size of your business you need a website that works as hard as you do.

For more on this check out:

  1. Is Your Website Marketing Working For Or Against You? and
  2. Website Marketing — Simple SEO Therapy for Writers and SMB

Tell the world. Start with your website. But that’s not all.

5)  Remember the main thing.

If you’re the boss, you can do whatever you want. But just because you have “permission” to do whatever, doesn’t mean that it’s a “profitable” choice.

Go as far as you’re prepared to push your brand, but stay close to who you are. In other words, for smaller companies who cannot afford to be the “everything-brand” or “discount-brand” like Walmart, message design is most effective when your conversation is narrow and clear.

Though Amazon currently works to sell everything, they made their name with a narrow focus, books. And maybe Google is trying to conquer the world these days, but their primary service was and still is, search — search the web, search videos, search emails — or as they call it,

“organizing the world’s information.”

For more on this check out:

  1. Message Design Amazon Style: Is Selling EVERYTHING Smart? and
  2. GOOGLE Knows Message Design. Do You? — 2 Simple Lessons

6) Off. And then on again.

When it comes to your message design process, be sure to take the conversation off the page and then bring it back again. Craft a great message about your product, but base that message on real life experiences.

Your personal and professional brand could make like Starbucks — treat your people to a quality product and a great experience and they’ll tell their own stories. That’s what you want, a healthy conversation — on and off line — about your brand. For this to work, the experience matters. For more on the one step in marketing that has little to do with words, check out:

PHOTO: Main air routes by Anton Balazh via Fotolia

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