Thursday, April 11, 2013

Better Communication:
50 Insights, Rules, and Rants!

 This is a list of things I seem to say (or think) over and again. It covers thoughts and observations from time spent working on thousands of projects and campaigns for hundreds of clients on everything from creativity, design, approvals, and committees, to communication, strategy, branding, design, websites, process, and social media. It ranges from proven facts to  my own highly opinionated positions. I'd love to hear your thoughts about anything on the list.


1.  When presenting new ideas, do everything you can in advance to manage expectations about how what you are about to present is a solution, and eliminate the "I-don't-like-it" factor. 

2.  Take off the blinders of looking at your own stuff too much. Try looking at it from the eyes of your customers.

3. Don't assume everyone recognizes brilliant creative, otherwise everyone would be doing it. Sometimes the best takes selling.

4. Really good ideas often aren't recognized by anyone but their creator. That's why they must be "sold". Eliminate the "I-don't-like-it" factor by setting expectations in advance. Don't let them be dismissed out of hand based on a superficial reaction.

5. When it comes to compelling visual concepts, lack of imagination is never hidden by pretty.

6. Be open minded. don't dismiss an idea out of hand because you don't like it, which may have nothing to do with whether it's good for your business. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's bad.


7. A sure way to kill good creative is to email it in and just let the PDF speak for itself. 

8. Never give someone a copy of something they've just approved if they are about to get on a plane.


9. When it comes to idea creation, more heads are better. For approval, fewer is better.

10. It's better to have two or more people to create an idea than to have the same number approve it.

11. You can chip 20% off of really good idea for each person who has to approve it.

12. Inevitably someone will suggest a "montage." Which never works.


13. If you're writing B2B marketing copy, "you" is 10x better than "we."

14. When naming something, as close as you can get to one syllable is best.

15. AACS — Acronyms are communication stoppers. They make you stop — even for a second to decode them, and longer if you don't recognize them.

16. Acronyms are cumbersome enough as an organization name. Just plain silly when the name is dropped in a "rebranding" exercise.

17. Corporate technobabble doesn't make messages sound smarter -- more like it's trying to make up for lack of substance. 

18. No one reads the "letter from the president."

19. Everyone reads lists.


20. Don't confuse activity with progress. Websites, blogs, logos, ads, videos -- all great tactics. Just don't confuse them with strategy -- or results
21. A strategic plan is not the same as a marketing plan.


22. Print. Online. Social. Traditional. There are too many channels for your brand to fall apart by being inconsistent.

23. When you want to "change it up", ask yourself: are you bored with your organization's identity or just bored with your job?

24. Just because it has your logo, doesn't mean it's branded
25. Too many colors, logos or messages are a symptom of a brand in trouble.

26. The big branding challenge for nonprofits and associations is how to present fresh new content in a recognizable package.

27. It's nearly impossible to hide lack of imagination with pretty visuals, while not the same in reverse. Ideas matter.

28. Your brand isn't a fashion statement. It's what identifies and separates you from the pack, and there's no room for inconsistency.

29. Think of your trade show exhibit as a stage set for your brand -- It's not an ad or brochure. People don't read a lot.


30. Don't place type over photos or busy backgrounds. Often when this is done, an attempt is made to make it "pop more" by adding a drop shadow, or changing the color. Never works.

31. If you find yourself looking at a stock photo site for a concept, start over. Concepts don't come from searches, they come from thinking.

32. A lame concept is never improved by a polished execution.

33. If you're working with a creative person, tell them what the problem is rather than how to solve it. You'll both be happier with the results.

34. If you're tempted to use more than one logo on anything, don't.

35. Designers care way more than you ever will about how it looks. So let them do their job.

36. Type should be black on white, white on black or as close in contrast to that as you can get if using colors.

37. When searching for a metaphor, don't ignore the obvious.


38. Social is the most natural media.

39. Social media should be Community based, Informative, thoughtful, entertaining and relevant. Or at least three of those.

40. Pictures are the currency of social media.

41. If someone calls themselves a social media guru, they aren't
42. Setting out to create "something viral" is like deciding to write a hit song.


43. Time it takes to create a website: 90% technology and architecture, and 10% graphic design.

44. Building a B2B website is a lot like building a house; it takes architects, builders, craftsmen and a good project manager. And the farther you get into it, the more expensive changes become.

45. Content is always the bottleneck in website production.


46. Always start a design with a sketch.

47. Most people wouldn't think of letting a contractor spend a day tiling your bathroom without a sketch. But businesses routinely think nothing of turning a graphic designer loose for a day without a plan.

48. When group thinking is required, it is best done face to face.

49. On work and telecommuting, it's important to understand the difference between creation (that requires collaboration) and production. Production by individuals is the only part that can can be more efficient when done at home.

50. With a good process, You can get extraordinary results from ordinary people.

Copyright 2013, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

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