Large organizations are complicated. They are made up of millions of facts, thousands of people, hundreds of messages, and dozens of initiatives. And depending on who you’re talking to in the organization, people say different things. It’s confusing.
As an organization becomes more complex, it’s harder to look at the organization and see what defines it. When organizations have too much to say, messages fragment and what matters is uncertain.
“If you take a handful of sugar cubes and throw them at somebody, they can’t catch any of them. You throw one and they can catch it.” That’s how Kate Manasian, managing director of strategic brand consultancy Manasian and Co., describes the essence of effective branding. It’s about boiling these complex, fragmented pieces down to a simple story and then telling that story well.
Here’s what else Manasian had to say at ITSMA’s 2015 Marketing Vision Conference.
To Get to the Heart of the Story, Immerse Yourself in the Mess
The process for getting to the simplicity is initially just allowing yourself to be immersed in the confusion. You don’t get to a simple story by ignoring the complexity. Instead, immerse yourself in it. Discover the overlaps and where things are bumping into each other. You must ask a lot of questions to get to the core element that rises to the top.
Manasian recommends starting with no constraints. You can do this in workshops or over a glass of wine. Let people talk without worrying about rules. Banish statements like “You can’t say that” or “That’s impractical.”
In other words, start big.
When You Get a Clear, Simple Message, Create the Context and Backdrop for Everything with It
Within large organizations are often many layers of information, products, and services. Good branding is about getting these multiple layers to connect and hang together—the story within the story. For example, GE created Imagination at Work as its identity. Whether it’s talking about GE Capital or GE Healthcare, it’s always talking within the context of Imagination at Work.
People like making sense of things and all the elements that make up an organization. If you don’t make the connections for them, they’ll try to do it themselves.
There Are Many Ways to Tell a Story Well
It all comes down to having something to say and saying it well. Prose and PowerPoint aren’t the only ways to express your brand’s story. Here are some ideas Manasian provided to get those creative juices flowing:
- Use wit and words to get your message across.
- Create images, photos, and graphics to illustrate a powerful story. A picture is worth a thousand words.
- Express your brand’s personality in an unconventional way.
- Unravel the beauty in things. For example, did you know that if you multiple 111,111,111 by itself, you get 12,345,678,987,654,321? For organizations that deal with numbers, there are ways to talk about the magic and beauty of numbers.
- Get your story across with certainty and emotion.
How does your organization convey your brand’s message? Are there other ideas your organization has used that worked well? We’ll love to hear about them! Leave a comment below or contact us.
How does your organization convey its brand’s message? Kate Manasian, Manasian and Co., believes the essence of effective branding is boiling complex, fragmented messages down to a simple story.