Over the course of my career working on many branding projects, my clients have told me some amazing stories about their company or products — what the impetus for them was, what obstacles they faced and overcame, their obsession to detail, a time when they provided support to a customer that went way above the call of duty….. the list goes on. By the time they finished relaying their stories, I was inspired and as committed to their cause as they were. To me, each story represented a piece of their corporate DNA. And when the time came to work on a project where we’d get the opportunity to share their story with the rest of the world (e.g. a website), I couldn’t wait to get started. And then I received their copy.
I’d hold my breath while I opened the file containing the copy, anxious to read the copy and see what we could do to bring their story to life. What I typically found was solid and professional, but the passion, drive, personality — all the things that made them unique — were gone. In their place was bland descriptive copy, industry jargon, and bullets. It was like reading War and Peace in Cliff Notes. The Grapes of Wrath in outline form.
It’s true that we live in a fast-paced, automated, and online world. As a result of this, we’ve concluded that we must present information as succinctly as possible because “people don’t like to read a lot of copy”. This oft-repeated mantra is an oversimplified perversion of how people digest content. Recent research bears out that people don’t mind reading copy — what’s important is when and where to keep copy short and when and where it’s appropriate to provide more detailed content. This is particularly true for websites (which will be discussed in a future blog).
Human connection is important — even if we’re not actually connecting with a human being.
We spend much of our day in a digital world. And for a long time, this people seemed okay with that. But this seems to be changing. A recent New York Times article1 stated that almost half of millennials worry about the negative effects of social media on their metal and physical health. At the same time, there is also a resurgence of things that were seemingly destined to oblivion — vinyl records, real books, paper notebooks. To me, this article illustrates not just the limitations of the digital world but more importantly the need for more real, physical connections in our lives. But these two worlds don’t have to exist mutually exclusive of each other.
In the absence of being able to communicate directly with someone, it’s important to find other ways to make a connection that touches an emotional chord. Doing so will certainly help to distinguish you from the rest of the pack more effectively than the usual laundry list of features or benefits, particularly in a world of indistinguishable templated, icon-ridden, data-driven websites.
Don’t underestimate how much sway the thoughts and actions that shaped and continue to influence your company, product or services has on prospects. These stories serve to demonstrate in a real-world way many of your claims (e.g. innovative, attention to detail, unparalleled support).They also serve to support or make a prospect feel good about deciding to work with you or buy your product or services. After all, decision-making is as much emotional as it is rational. So go ahead and show some emotion.
1 New York Times, Sunday Review, Sunday, November 19, 2017