From Jargon to Clarity: How to Explain Your Complicated Brand to Anyone

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You have heard all of the same marketing advice (with the familiar acronyms and jargon) over and over until your head is spinning. 

It’s always some version of this:

Step 1: Figure out who your ideal client is.

Step 2: Write an ideal client avatar (ICA).

Step 3: Come up with your unique value proposition (UVP).

Step 4: Write your 30-second elevator pitch to speak to your ICA and highlight your UVP.

And you’ve probably thought, “yes, I can see why these steps are important and yet, it’s so hard to capture my brand in these four oversimplified steps.” 

You’ve tried (perhaps hundreds of times) to squeeze all that your brand is, does, and means to you and your clients into a single statement. And you’ve probably been successful because you’re still in business. But you can’t help feeling that your marketing messages ring hollow.  

It’s okay! There’s a good reason you feel this way: Your brand is complicated. 

While the surface-level marketing advice we all hear is a good starting point, you also need an outlet for communicating your complicated brand that 

  • captures your personality, 
  • educates your audience, and 
  • gives prospects a taste of what it’s like to work with you.

To be honest, this is a tall order for any marketing message. The nuance represented by these three bullet points is hard to capture in a 30-second elevator pitch. Still, marketing is the (imperfect) tool we have for promoting our businesses. 

So how can you explain your brand in a way that captures the core of what you need to communicate? Let’s talk about how to move from jargon to clarity.

Look at your marketing more holistically

Don’t get me wrong, you DO need to have a unique value proposition, an idea of who you’re selling to, and some version of an elevator pitch that doesn’t make you cringe (not a good look). It’s also worth remembering, though, that your marketing encompasses much more than these.

What are you doing to leverage your thought leadership? Are you writing blog articles or industry articles regularly (i.e., at least monthly)? Are you spending 20 minutes per day, at least 3 times per week on LinkedIn engaging with others and sharing your ideas? Are you attending valuable networking events? Are you speaking to networking, community, and industry groups?

Leveraging your thought leadership in these ways will help you to find an outlet for the nuances that really light you up. In long form content or in conversation with others (both synchronous and asynchronous), you have the freedom to dig deeper. And this can also relieve some of the pressure you might be putting on your shorter marketing messages and copy to say absolutely everything in as few words as possible. 

In developing these more depthy pieces, the clarity you discover can help you find your way to those pithy marketing messages too. Keep in mind, though, that going deeper with your content shouldn’t mean that your writing becomes more obscure. Pretend you’re talking to a junior colleague or your past self before you knew all that jargon.

Plain language trumps buzzwords and corporate-speak every single time, especially if you’re thinking about connecting with your audience.

Make connecting with your audience your top priority

If you have a complicated brand—one with nuances that require clear explanations—it pays to make connecting with your audience your top priority. Worry less about how your elevator pitch feels to you (or someone else who knows your work nearly as well as you do). Instead, focus on connecting with a lay audience. It’s okay if they don’t understand everything that you do after hearing your 30-second pitch. What you want is to get them to connect with something you say.

Yes, it can be harder to create marketing messages for brands like yours, but you are lucky in one sense: When you connect with an audience that is attracted to high quality, highly nuanced content, you can earn their trust quickly.

According to the 2022 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report put together by Edelman and LinkedIn, while 59% of c-suite executives spend an hour or more per week consuming thought leadership content, only 13% say that the overall quality of most of the thought leadership they read is very good or excellent. This is a huge opportunity to stand out and connect with an audience that is hungry for great thought leadership content.  

Highlight the nuance instead of hiding it

Finally, although it may be tempting to “dumb down” your content in order to fit into the box marketing folks construct, leaving out the nuance is not the best way to communicate about your complicated brand. Hiding from the nuance that makes your brand unique is guaranteed to make you sound like every other brand in your industry.

Rather than hiding from that nuance, I want you to highlight it. Think about what you wish everyone knew about your brand. Go ahead. Set a timer for 10 minutes and free write without editing yourself (or better yet, record yourself talking it through). I’ll wait.

Now take a look at what you wrote. Notice the nuance, the subtle differences that are the real core of what you do for your clients. I bet your unique value proposition and your elevator pitch are there on the page. All you have to do is play with what you have there and you’ll find those messages.

One of our clients did the hard work of honing their UVP over several months. What they discovered through that process was rather than focusing on how they fit into the mold everyone was expecting (corporate communications), when they leaned into what was different about their firm (business advisory), it opened up a whole new world of content ideas.

If your brand feels too complicated to be captured by surface-level marketing prompts, chuck those prompts aside and focus on communicating the complication. When you look at your marketing more holistically, connect with your audience, and highlight the nuances that are the true hallmark of your brand, you’ll quickly move from jargon to clarity.

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