My former boss, from whom I learnt many things including ‘messaging’, was a difficult man to please, or differently put, he was a ‘simple’ man to please. Often, during reviews, he would dismiss long, complexly crafted sentences put together by the team with a “So what are you saying?” We’d often retort with simple, intuitive answers, based on research and work that had gone in. “Then just say that!” he’d sum up. Simple can be very powerful.
Simple then? Actually far from it…my first messaging assignment proved to be tougher than anything I had done until then. It is still very rigorous mentally and even physically :) – This Sunday I spent close to 4 hours+ on round 2 of the probe process, along with the core team of a technology event we are helping craft messaging right now. We are beginning to warm up after a few significant breakthroughs. But, I like it -sometimes bordering towards obsession- looking at messages that brands, corporates are sending out. Do they make sense? How believable are they? Are they any different from what their competition is saying?
Looking at organizations/ brands we often we find that there is a perceptible gap between ‘who they are, what they do’ and who they say ‘they are and what they do’. This usually happens because in any organization or business, there are many things to be said to many stakeholders and it is easy to get lost in the woods.
(What about organizational preparedness – is there a gap between what we say we do and what we ‘really’ do, in terms of our ability to deliver?)
The problem is then compounded when the message travels externally and is often interpreted differently by the stakeholders than intended. Therefore, what they understand, say about/ do about these organizations or brands may be totally different and will therefore not deliver optimal impact on desired opinion, behavior and reputation.
Powerful, differentiated & strategic messaging is, therefore, the perhaps most critical part of the communication process for any organization or brand – leading to strategic planning and outreach.
Over time, I have seen that given extensive involvement of the top management and the senior leadership team, the exercise often allows us a unique view of the differentiated path that the organization has chosen and has the potential to cross over from the realms of communication to an organization’s preparedness for meeting stakeholder expectations (that it may fall short upon today), thus delivering long term shift and impact.
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