Case study: product design via brand messaging

How do you create brand messaging – and simultaneously set product strategy?

Problem: how to describe a complex solution in simple language?
Here’s a use case: a Big Data, predictive analytics service which evaluates bankruptcy risk for any given company (any of the world’s 63,000 publicly held companies). And which compresses that evaluation into an easy to read report. 
This is the model:
Super Complex Tangle of Data -> (transformation) -> Simple, Actionable Insight
Lots of businesses are following this model this now, whether delivering it through SaaS software or not. Because (a) the world is growing exponentially more complex and (b) we have an Infinite Content problem. Even the indie electropop music world knows this.
Careful not to fall into the “making the complex simple” trap here. That’s lazy thinking. Don’t write about your business that way, don’t think about your solution that way. Almost every hominid who’s stalked the face of the earth compresses complexity into actionable insight; that’s not special. 
Special is why and how you do it, using specifics.
Related aside: what you write is what you think. Literally. The linguist Rudolf Flesch explored this phenomenon in over a dozen books written in the late 40’s and 50’s, including, “The Art of Clear Thinking”, in which he defines thinking as the manipulation of memories. He also created the theory that became the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. It helps you express create thoughts that your readers will understand and – with little effort – hold in their minds as they read. ((By the way, are you one of the 12 million people whose WordPress site has the Yoast SEO plugin installed? I bet half of you are. And 99.9% of humans read content on a website that uses this plugin. Significance? Because the Yoast SEO plugin uses the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test, pretty much all of literate humanity reads content that is influenced in some small way by Rudolf Flesch. ))
Thinking is the manipulation of memory. So what you write amounts to what memories you manipulate.
And what memories do you manipulate as you describe how your eats-complexity-for-lunch solution creates something simple, valuable, and useful for your customers?
It depends on what information you take in. Garbage in, garbage out. That’s why research is the foundation of ideation. But the key is to aim for specifics.
And that brings us to the case study promised in the subject line of this email.
I have already stated the problem above; let’s look at the first attempt to solve it, the second attempt, and the final attempt.
Starting slogan: 
Automate Supply Chain Risk Assessment

Midpoint slogan:
Predictive Reports from Real-time

Financial and Market Data

Endpoint slogan:
Predictive Real-time Reports

from Markets, News and Filings
What’s significant about the 3rd slogan?
  • It’s long, like complex B2B solutions often need to be
  • It’s transparent. What is the thing you get? If the thing you get is reports, say reports.
  • It doesn’t contain cliche’s or “jargon-cliches”. The term supply chain is now so over-used it has become almost meaningless. Ditto for risk assessment
  • It’s detailed: the reports come not from “Financial” data, which could be almost anything, but from markets, which means equity, credit, or bond markets to the audience, from market news, and from market and regulatory filings.

For most of us, this is greek. But for a specific audience this means something, or is at least compelling. As my client I and crafted this messaging together, we searched our memory banks for specifics.

As you do the same, be suspicious of any term that rolls off your tongue too easily. Such as “market data”. Because that term’s ease is acquired through overuse. And overuse means it probably has less meaning than an alternative.

By examining the alternatives (such as the seemingly awkward term “filings”) we found an accurate way to describe how the complex becomes simple. And why the solution in question is valuable. Or at least we set the stage for doing so – after all, this just a slogan, not a content strategy.

But in the process of architecting this slogan, we cemented a product design roadmap. 

Marketing and product design are the same thing. If you disagree, let me know why.

I’m really looking forward to 2020. Drop me a quick line and let me know what you’re going to be working on.

And have a great weekend 🙂