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Why should you embrace plain language with brand?


It’s harder to be plain than it is to be fancy.

To be plain, you need to know exactly the heart of what you’re trying to say, because you’re not letting yourself hide behind clever words. Later on, when you write copy, you can make your language sound pretty. But at this point, when you’re defining your brand, when you’re setting the strategic direction, keep your language plain and unadorned to help you make sure that the idea is right.

Sometimes my teenage kids will ask me to read a paper they’re trying to write for school. And sometimes I come across a paragraph or a sentence that is jammed with words or clauses whose meaning I just don’t understand.

I put the paper aside and ask, “What exactly do you mean here? If you were trying to explain this to your 7-year-old cousin – how would you put it? How would you say it?”

This is the moment where they blanche and they admit that they don’t know what they’re trying to say. That’s why they stuffed it with words and clauses. We both take a step back and get really honest about what is the meaning to convey. Only then can clarifying sentences emerge.

The problem wasn’t writing the essay. The problem was getting to the root of what they were trying to say. Once they stepped away from writing the essay, they could discern what is the meaning that they want to get across.

That is the real work, and it takes some courage and some grit. It takes a willingness to not hide.

The same thing happens when we are crafting our brand strategy. We sometimes jump too quickly to the clever words we want to use, rather than taking the time and the energy to identify the most potent meaning that we want those words to convey.

We try to make it sound pretty too soon and skip the part where you pinpoint what is the meaning that we want the audience to take away.

If you don’t do the hard work of pinpointing what meaning you want your audience to take away, how can you expect them to do the hard work that you didn’t want to do?

When you create your brand strategy – do you fall prey to getting enchanted by clever words rather than examining first the meaning you want your words to convey?

Remember, before you get fancy, get plain. Pinpoint the meaning you want your business to stand for before you put it into beautiful language.

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