Simplicity thrills, complexity kills.
And, somewhat paradoxically, the shorter the message, the more effort it takes to refine it to simple.
(That’s why an organisation’s tagline – the two to five word description, promise, ‘story’ after its brand name – can be so tricky to distill).
But what must a message contain to be considered simple yet profound?
The first and most important element is one central truth.
No matter what you’re selling, what idea you’re pushing, what cause you’re promoting, if it isn’t encapsulated in a sound-bite (verbal or written) that has a reader or listener thinking “ah, I get it, tell me more”, then you’ve immediately lost them. That is, assuming they have at least a passing interest in what you’re talking about in the first place.
One central truth is the nub of what you’re talking about, rendered in such a way that a relative stranger can tell another relative stranger pretty much what your message is.
This one central truth needs to be stated in terms that are easy to grasp, and preferably easy to picture – and be able to create an image in your own mind.
It is a trade-off between being brief and being clear. It means having just the right amount of detail for the circumstances.
This is where the paradox of message length comes in – the longer the message; say content marketing or native advertising – the easier it is to write mainly because you have more words to play with.
The Secret SAUCE book, at the time of writing this blog still available as a free download, has a diagnostic tool that allows you to gauge the three criteria relating to simple:
- One central truth
- Easy to grasp
- Easy to picture
This allows you, and your friends or colleagues to objectively decide whether your message has the necessary characteristics that embody simplicity.
However, it may mean you have to go back to the drawing board to achieve such a message outcome.
Keep in mind that from a message point of view (and much of the rest of life and business for that matter), getting to simple can be difficult.
After all: complex is easy, simple is hard.