How to Create Great Messaging

Brad Gantt | April 18, 2015

“Messaging” is how we describe the output of strategic and creative processes at Phelps. It’s the work, and we strive to make it as creative as possible. Why? Because studies show that creative messaging is far more effective than conventional messaging.

For the purposes of this article, we are defining creativity as “the ability to find unusual and non-obvious solutions to a problem.” Creative messaging often has these four dimensions:

  1. Originality – Has qualities that are rare or surprising.
  2. Flexibility – Connects the product or service to a range of different uses or experiences.
  3. Elaboration – Contains unexpected details or extends simple ideas so they become more intricate or deep.
  4. Synthesis – Blends or connects normally unrelated ideas or objects.

There are many ways to achieve this type of solution, but here are traits that are common to creative thinkers.

  1. Fluency – Or, the number of relevant ideas proposed. Creative thinkers never stop at the first “good” idea.
  2. Originality – How uncommon are the responses? Creative thinkers often discard the most obvious solutions to pursue the unexpected.
  3. Elaboration – The amount of detail given in the proposed idea. The difference between good and great is often in the details.
  4. Abstraction – The degree to which a word or slogan moves beyond being a label for something concrete. In other words, creative thinkers avoid “see/say” ideas that simply describe what you are seeing.
  5. Resistance to premature closure – The most creative thinkers avoid the temptation to execute a good idea in favor of pursuing more innovative solutions.

So how do you create great messaging? By adopting and practicing the traits of creative thinkers above. Don’t stop at your first “good” idea; generate as many relevant ideas as you can. Purge the obvious solutions so you can push for originality.

And, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you’re doing it right, you’re out of your comfort zone. Relax. That’s where the really good stuff is.

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