Doing less is always difficult. There is a natural human tendency to do more.
To fill silences with words. To throw text on a page. To embellish a design with bells and whistles rather than just pull back. To use 10 words when one would do. To use five examples when the point was made after one.
In a media environment where communication channels and pathways have proliferated, brands are struggling with 1) understanding the changes to the new media marketing environment, 2) selecting / prioritizing which channel(s) to use, and 3) recognizing that they need to measure the return the channels give them.
Rush to create Facebook fan page, a Twitter handle, a Pinterest board, and start checking in on foursquare. The thinking is that if consumers are using an online touchpoint, then a brand needs to be there also. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Different channels have different purposes and tones.
And those purposes and tones might not match up with your overall branding and marketing strategy. More importantly, this blanket approach might not even lead to conversations with the right segment of consumers.
Queue the tendency to fill empty spaces.
Sometimes, less is better. And this may seem counter-intuitive for marketers to say to clients, but it’s responsible and, more importantly, a better long-term strategy. Have your client focus on fewer channels with greater impact rather than being everything to everyone on every channel.
I’m reading “Buying In” by Rob Walker. The book is about the “dialogue between what we buy and who we are.” I think that means that the book is about what hidden motivations spur our purchase decisions and how branding plays a role in the process.
Walker discusses how logos are developed and that symbolic meaning for those logos can be invented – either by the logo’s creator or by its intended audience. He uses Hello Kitty as an example.
“I couldn’t express the mouth in a cute way,” Shimuza said, “so I decided not to use it.”
Shimuza, the woman who designed the Hello Kitty character could not figure out how to properly draw its mouth. So instead of forcing the issue and trying to make it fit, she pulled back and showed restraint.
Walker credits the lack of Hello Kitty’s defining features and characteristics (like a mouth) with increasing the “projectability” of the logo – allowing it to mean different things to a variety of people. A Hello Kitty spokesperson said that, “Without the mouth, it is easier for the person looking at Hello Kitty to project their feelings onto the character.” Hello Kitty became a cultural icon because it could mean so many things to so many different people.
This Hello Kitty example is instructive for many fields, social media included. And it’s a simple lesson. Don’t force it. Sometimes restraint is better and can create more possibilities.
Sometimes, doing less can lead to much more.