Most of us today grew up as kids playing "telephone." We all remember how one message could become transformed and muddled into something completely different by the time it got back to us. Sadly, in the advertising world, messages can sometimes become muddled as if we're playing that game of telephone. What we initially meant to communicate to the client falls by the wayside as the audience misinterprets our message. Our brand message and identity get lost somewhere along the way.
How does a brand avoid getting its message muddled as if it was passing through a bad translator? Conveying clear messages to clients is as simple as setting up strategies that help to remove ambiguity. The information we intend to communicate should be clear from the time it leaves the company to the minute that the audience receives it.
Eight professionals from Ad Age Collective have navigated the tricky world of communications for years. Below, they leverage their experience to share some of the best strategies that a brand can employ to ensure their message remains clear and concise from delivery to receipt.
1. Keep your messages simple and short.
Keep your messages simple and short, particularly when communicating with large or broad audiences. Ask yourself if your message could live as a headline, a simple call-to-action or a tweet. - Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide
2. Speak the language of your audience.
Speak the language of the audience. Clearly define the purpose of the communication and the one thing you want them to take away. Success is not measured by how smart your message looks, but by what your audience takes away from it. - Arjun Sen, ZenMango
3. Have a clear content strategy for each channel.
It may sound basic, but many brands insist in communicating everything, all the time, on all channels. Divide and conquer! Think what content should be conveyed on which communication channel and at what moment. The myriad of touch points is the key to being sharp, single-minded and relevant along every step of the consumer journey. - Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy - Knowledge Brokers
4. Test if your messaging resonates.
Do your research and test if your messages resonate with your audience before broadcasting far and wide. Reach out to those within your target audience who are willing to give feedback, or check with others who are already trusted and ask, "Does this check out?" Accept you don't have all the answers, invite a conversation rather than make a statement and don’t try to fool your audience. - Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute
5. Help the audience visualize the consequences of action.
Craft a message so an audience can clearly visualize the consequences of action on their particular situation. Once your creative jumps the synapses into a mentally visual story of their own concoction and conclusions, it crystalizes and you're in. Nothing can muddy it. Then -- and only then -- will it cease to be advertising noise. - Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)
6. Have a consistent message to your employees and audience.
At my business, we have several ways to make sure that we have a consistent message to our employees and audience. We document writing styles, our goals, values and mission so there's never a misunderstanding. Also, I encourage people to discuss anything work-related on Slack and I always jump in to clarify any issues, and so do other people on the team. So far, it's worked very well. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
7. Avoid using industry jargon.
Avoid the jargon. When we discuss jargon, often we are referring to it at an industry-level. We forget that jargon exists at a smaller but significant level: departmental. By distilling your message to its clearest and most concise form, you will avoid the message getting misinterpreted by people from different fields. Thus, true communication is achieved where all parties understand the message. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
8. Repeat your messaging to ensure alignment.
Repetition is key. Early in my career, I worked for a CEO who constantly repeated the same things at every meeting. I thought it was boring until I realized it was brilliant. His job was to make sure everyone was aligned against the same strategies. Be consistent until you consciously decide to make a change, at which point you need to be faithful to the new message. Boring, in this context, is OK. - Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)