key message basics

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Key Messages

The most important few words you have to say.

Effective key messages foster full understanding of essential ideas rapidly. A good key message plants an intuitive idea into the mind instantly. Ideally, that key message resonates as authentic, harmonizes with the values of the right people, and compels beneficial action.

how key messages matter

For any sort of enterprise, key messages can help:

  • to distinguish a brand from competitors
  • to guide organizational decision-making
  • to maintain focus and prevent off-purpose drift
  • to generate more business of the preferred kind
  • to maintain the loyalty of customers, suppliers, and staff.

establish relevance

Whether for a particular audience or for the world, a key message can comprise one eloquent word. Some key messages take a few lines to read or a few seconds to hear. In every case, a compelling key message is brief, simple, and full of meaning.

  • Does your market like your name as fitting?
  • Do the right people find your slogan meaningful?
  • Does your motto seem pertinent to the right people?
  • Does your call to action actually prompt beneficial action?
  • Does your mission statement harmonize your organization's purpose with your market's values?
  • Does your elevator speech take 30 seconds or fewer and compel people to ask for your business card?

the corporate concept

A good corporate key message contains the corporate concept. For example, Coca-Cola is much more than a one-beverage company. Under other names, Coca-Cola markets fruit juices and other soft drinks. Yet, the name Coca-Cola is associated foremost with the soft drink of the same name. The corporate motto covers it all: Enjoy.

pass this test

Could you express your brand promise wholistically in a single word or short phrase?

a simple concept that's yours

When an enterprise succeeds at propagating and living up to its fundamental key message, its market associates its identity with a single, distinct concept.

  • Volvo = safety
  • Heinz = ketchup
  • Timex = durability
  • Rolls Royce = elite
  • Wal Mart = low prices
  • McDonald's = fast food
  • Molson = Canadian beer
  • Energizer = long battery life
  • Tim Horton = donuts & coffee
  • Fender = electric guitars & basses

Is your fundamental key message simple, distinct, and well-known in your market? If not, then why?

internal or external focus

Of course, brand promises and mottoes address external audiences. Success with key messages for external audiences may only follow from clarity of the ultimate key message, meant for internal communication only: the vision statement. Your vision statement succinctly describes where your mission will take you if you stretch and persist to achieve it some day.

what you aim to achieve

When thinking about the uncertain future seems misdirected; when the decisions of today need to be validated or adjusted to align with a clear, simple organizational purpose, these can be checked and calibrated in relation to a strong, certain vision statement.

make a difference

An authentic, articulate key message can reach the right people effectively, creating or reinforcing the right impression and helping to avoid direct competition. Since 1996, with expert help from Articulate Consultants, independent businesses in Canada and the USA have been discovering and articulating their key messages to good effect.

Enquire today. Request a free discovery session via the link below.

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© Glenn R. Harrington  /  Articulate Consultants Inc.