We live in a world of clickbait and hyperbole. Although this might catch someone’s initial interest, it may have a negative long-term impact on your customer.
Equally, businesses have been told to shoot for creativity, but often this only leads to confusion.
I recently had dinner at a restaurant in a boating community. I needed to use the men’s room but couldn’t find it. I walked around for five minutes, looking everywhere. I went to the front desk, and they pointed me down the hall toward two doors with the following signs.
I had walked past these doors previously but never assumed they were the restrooms. And when I realized I was in the right place, it took me a few minutes to figure out which was the correct door for me. Outboards? Inboards? Maybe it’s obvious to everyone else, but it confused the heck out of me.
This got me thinking about how this concept relates to innovation.
We are told we need to be clever to stand out. But creativity should never confuse people. Being catchy for the sake of catchiness is the surest way to lose a customer.
Look at your marketing, branding, and product names. Are they clear? Have you tested them? Just because it makes sense to you and your team doesn’t mean others will understand.
One clever campaign was the Coors “Turn it Loose” slogan. Unfortunately, when translated to Spanish, this means you will suffer from diarrhea.
Burger King launched their “Satisfries” to great fanfare in 2013. These lower-fat fries came with a fatter price tag. As it turns out, people don’t want a healthier fry with a clever name, and the product was pulled a year later. Some referred to them as “saddest fries.” Ouch.
After Netflix got a foothold in streaming, they decided to rebrand their DVD mailing service to Quikster. Supposedly it was to suggest quick delivery, but people had no idea what it was. Eventually, it was rebranded to DVD.com. Not clever, but it is quite clear.
Clever versus clear is something I am focused on for my next book. The current title is Pivotal. I like it because it is clever; it is a play on the word “pivot.” But I am concerned that people might assume it is a book promoting pivoting when in fact, it encourages people to pivot less and find ways to go deeper with customers. The goal is to become irreplaceable to your customers. A good subtitle will be critical if I want clever and clear.
And that should be the goal – clever and clear. One of my favorite book titles is Tongue Fu! How to Deflect, Disarm, and Defuse Any Verbal Conflict by Sam Horn. The title grabs your attention, and the subtitle clarifies the book’s promise. Her latest book is also cleverly titled: Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations. Bam!
So the next time you brainstorm clever names, titles, or taglines, be sure to make the promise clear.
Otherwise, you might end up like I was while looking for the men’s room.
Where have you focused on being clever yet found that the lack of clarity hurt you?