3 minute read

We’re a category of one...”

There’s nobody who does what we do, the way we do it...”

“We’re reinventing the market...”

Do any of these statements sound familiar? Perhaps so. And perhaps there’s even some truth in these statements. But what if they’re causing people to do mental gymnastics in order to understand what you do?

A clear and compelling brand or product narrative is essential for any business or non-profit organization. But some companies will try so hard to make themselves sound interesting or unique that it actually confuses their audiences. When investigating the “WHY”, it’s often because these companies don’t want to be lumped in with the rest of the brand or product category.

But this can be a problematic approach. For example, imagine I’ve invented a new type of shoe. But instead of calling it a shoe, I want to market my product as a “transportation device.” Yes, my audience could rationalize how this might be true and even appreciate the cleverness, but they’d have to stop and think about it for a bit to get there.

When you look at the science of how our brain processes information, we use mental shortcuts to allow us to easily and quickly classify information. Calling a shoe a “transportation device” may seem like an innovative or even creative way to talk about a product that’s been around for thousands of years, but it creates a “speed bump” for audiences. Will people take the time to stop and think about it? Maybe. But more than likely they won’t. 

People are overwhelmed with information on a daily basis, so the easier you make it for them to connect with your brand the more successful you’ll be. Build on what you know to be true about human behavior and create simple messages to help people quickly identify what you do and what you have to offer. Once you’ve grabbed their attention (i.e., shoe vs. transportation device), that’s when the fun starts. That’s when you get to demonstrate why you’re great.

Having worked extensively with the financial services industry, I’ve come to appreciate the challenges and opportunities that credit unions have. The main challenge being that people largely don’t understand the value that credit unions provide. Yet, credit unions tend to shy away from comparisons to banks. That’s why one of my favorite examples is for an Indianapolis-based credit union, Elements Financial (not a Borshoff client). Their tagline is “Like a bank, only better.” This is a great example of good messaging – it’s simple, direct and reduces barriers to understanding.  

Your brand messaging can be one of your best assets – as long as you’re not making it unnecessarily difficult for your audience to get it.

If you’re ready to develop messaging that’s clear and resonates with your audience, we’d love to talk. Or, if you have thoughts or perspective on this subject, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to reach me at adam.hoover@borshoff.biz.