Quote attributed to: Flint Mcglaughlin
I read an article that claimed the average person consumes about 74 gigabytes (9 DVDs worth) of data each and every day. We live in a world where information overload has become a major challenge. In order to cope, our brains create attenuation filters that allow processing of the message linearly beginning with analysis of physical characteristics, patterns, words, grammar and meaning (Treisman’s Theory). Depending on how busy the brain is it will truncate the processing before it finishes. Simply said, a busy brain may never process the meaning of your communication. If you are trying to get a message across, information overload can short-circuit your efforts.
Clarity of messaging is critical to any successful communication.
If somebody finds your messaging confusing or hard to work with, they will simply filter it out; while a competitor with a clear message will grab their attention and likely win their business.
During my time at P&G, message clarity was a primary focus of our advertising evaluation. We knew clarity was a driver of advertising success. We also knew if our advertising lacked clarity we would be wasting budget dollars and losing sales to the competition. As a consequence, for every communication we asked two fundamental questions:
- Could you understand the benefit after one viewing or read?
- Is the benefit the main focus of the visuals and drama?
If the answer to these two questions was yes, we knew statistically our communication had a higher probability of working.
It Isn’t Hard
To ensure clarity in your advertising, you have to first start with making certain your brand promise is clearly articulated and understood. If your brand promise isn’t written in simple language or doesn’t pass the test of being relevant, competitive and authentic, there is no way your advertising will have clarity. Get your brand promise right before you waste your money on trying to communicate it.
Then, when you evaluate your advertising ask three simple questions:
- Is the advertising idea about my brand promise?
- Is the drama focused on my brand promise?
- Is there anything in the advertising that will distract attention from my brand promise?
Your goal should be to ensure everybody exposed to your advertising interprets your brand promise the way you intend it to be interpreted. This is an easy thing to test and doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. Take your advertisement and ask 6 – 12 people to look at it and write a sentence describing the message they think you are trying to communicate. Compare the results with your brand promise. If the alignment isn’t there, your advertising lacks clarity. My strong counsel is to fix it before you invest money behind it, or your advertisement will become just another attenuated message with the meaning filtered out.