Unless you live under a rock you have probably seen the Darth Vader Volkswagen ad from the Super Bowl. It’s gone viral with (as of this writing) 23,896,467 hits on YouTube. Why is it so popular? It’s undeniably clever and touching yet very simple, not one word is spoken.
In a media cluttered world, delivering communications with simplicity and clarity is more essential than ever. We are all living in fast paced times and as the world gets more complex we all crave a little simplicity.
During the past few years, many large brands have realized that and simplified their messages. Just think of Charles Schwab and the "Talk to Chuck" campaign. Or Staples with their popular "Easy" Button spots. And one of my favorites the popular UPS "Whiteboard" campaign showing a guy drawing and talking to us about how UPS works. These ads are captivating. I think it’s because of the select amount of words they use and all that beautiful white space.
Consider one of the most famous speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address. It’s emotional language delivered big ideas with purpose and power and in just 278 words!
So how do small businesses get on the bandwagon? After all, who of us has the same kind of marketing budgets as the big guys?
According to the book 27 Powers of Persuasion by Chris St. Hilaire (a well known message strategist) "It’s about persuading people without browbeating them... whether it’s persuading a group or selling a product, it’s easiest to accomplish a goal if your story is simple." Why? I believe its because we are all inundated with messages that shout at us; online, offline, mobile and we crave simplicity and sincerity.
So how can you find the "one" story from "many"? Think about situations in which people experience their own relationships between your brand or service and the lives they lead and depict it. It’s easy if you’re a non-profit, there are always great stories about one person you helped. But what if you’re selling bricks? Try to remember there is always an end user. Those bricks build homes and "many" people live in those homes, and in just "one" of those homes is one family just like you. Just ask yourself what’s going to relate to my specific audience and find the right way to communicate it. Or as Chris puts it in his book, "recognize your audience's reality… So if you sell water don’t ask how do we sell more water ask yourself why do people like water?"
Now back to why the Darth Vader Volkswagen ad from the Super Bowl is so popular. Yes, it leverages humor and the mystique of star wars but there was so much more. It successfully created an emotional connection. How? By getting into the audiences reality with a simple story. As a baby boomer I sat through all of those movies with my son and spent a small fortune on all the merchandising. My son, who begged for all those toys (and still hasn’t forgiven me for giving all of them away) felt nostalgic for his own childhood while watching it. Our realities are different but the ad spoke to both of us.
This “keep it simple” philosophy works across all mediums, from ad messages to websites to social media. To be successful we should always respect how busy people are and not waste their time. You have only a few moments to make an impression, make sure you make it one that potential customers can feel good about.
–Ann Byne, Principal, The Byne Group