Choose What to Lose From Your Brand Message

Your product is so great that you want to tell potential customers all about it.

Like really, ALL about it.


At least, not if you value your revenue and your customers’ sanity.

When leading a Message Makeover for a company, my first job is reconciling the client to the
idea that brand messaging is, and must be, a lossy compression scheme. Every business needs to
choose what to lose from their brand messaging. What is left out matters as much as what goes

Why is this so critical? Let me count the reasons:

1. Attention: Your customer can’t care like you do

Nobody cares about your business as much as you do, and you can’t make them. Your
business probably occupies much of your waking life. You may live and breathe it. Your
prospective customer does not. And even your most loyal current customers can’t
possibly think about your offering as much as you do. They use it, hopefully love it, and
go on with the rest of their day. When selling, don’t burden them with a level of detail
they cannot possibly care about.

2. Aggregation: Your message is the map, not the territory

Messaging, like map-making or file compression, must leave out information if it is to be
useful. A map of the world in 1:1 detail would be perfectly accurate, but it wouldn’t fit
on your phone or your wall. Your Positioning Statement and Key Messages must be
similarly stripped down. It has to help your prospective customer navigate your value,
but can’t be too big for them to carry.

3. Focus: You can’t be “all about” 5 things

How credible is it to describe your offering as simultaneously “lowest cost” and
“luxurious” and “focused” and “for everyone?” Not very! It’s like describing your dog as
half border collie, half golden retriever, and half pit bull. It’s too many halves! If we go
back to Michael Porter’s basic ideas of strategic positioning, standing for one good thing
naturally means standing away from many others. Walmart was all about “low prices
everyday” for decades. Only when everyone understood this did they expand to “spend
less, live better.” If one key trait represents your core value, make your Positioning
Statement about that. Leave important but secondary traits for your Key Messages or
Proof Points.

There are so many more reasons to leave even important things out of your brand message.
However, taking my own advice about brevity, I’ve left many of them out. Hopefully, these
reasons are motivation enough to start cutting down your message. Because, ironically, cutting
your message is the fast path to growing your business.

Need help figuring out what to cut? Feel free to get in touch.