Bullet-point Branding

We’ve all seen it. The company that presents itself as a series of bullet points, on a website or a brochure or a Powerpoint slide show.

  • It’s a bad practice
  • In fact, it’s a really bad practice
  • Because it’s ineffective
  • And turns off the audience
  • So don’t do it!

Recently, I was at an evening meeting for a professional organization I work with, and a vendor company that was sponsoring the meeting was given a few minutes to deliver their spiel. Those were some of the longest minutes I’ve lost in quite some time! Bullet point after bullet point of all the expected phrases, yet not one thing that could help the audience understand why this company is unique! No real brand, no distinguishing message, just blah, blah, blah.

“We deliver on-time and on-budget.” “Our people are our strongest asset.” “Our customers always come back for more.” “Our project management process is blah, blah, blah.”

Small companies, and particularly technology companies, are prone to this branding transgression. If we list out enough features and benefits, surely everyone will be impressed! No, actually, everyone will be asleep. A related error is trying to market one’s company by over-use of buzzwords, when the only person who actually understands the message is the author – not the audience!

Find the one major distinguishing element of your company, and build the message around that. Is it customer service by human beings (not voicemail menus)? Is it rapid deployment? Is it rich industry experience? Sift through all the bullet points and extract out the one most distinguishing, customer-appealing, and memorable element. Then find a way to make the point stick, so that at the end of any presentation, the members of the audience carry away a clear picture of who you are and what you do.

Make it your goal not to try to tell people everything. Tell them one thing. Effectively!

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Author: Steve Woodruff (19 Articles)

Steve Woodruff launched his consulting practice (Impactiviti LLC) in 2006, working with clients to create branding that sticks. StickyFigure, a division of Impactiviti, specializes in helping small and mid-sized businesses that are seeking to make greater impact in their marketplace, but do not have the internal resources to brand themselves effectively. We also partner with larger organizations that need to borrow a fresh creative perspective. Steve also actively consults in the training/communications field, with a particular focus on healthcare and pharmaceuticals; and he serves as VP Communications on the Board of a local ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) chapter in NJ. LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/swoodruff

Comments

  1. Steve,

    When I read your first paragraph I was going to disagree with you. But in reading the entire article, you are absolutely right. My favorite point you make is to find the important idea and build on it. The technique is more engaging to the audience. It is not so much that bullet points are wrong, it is what follows them that is important.

    One sad thing about the market today is people’s reluctance to read gobs of copy. But regardless of the technique it is the message that is impoirtant every time.

    Ya got me. Thanks,

    Ed

  2. Ed,

    Of course, you should always feel free to dissent…however, I won’t deny that it makes me feel good when you agree! -Steve

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Bullet-point Branding – wherein I take on the (very common) tendency to present one’s company via a list of blah-blah, and suggest that it is far more effective to narrow company branding down to a point of differentiation. [...]

  2. [...] Steve Woodruff, on Small Business Branding, implores us to avoid bullet points. If this trend continues, we may run completely out of punctuation marks. [...]