Say It Simply, Say It Well

How to craft and share messages using plain speak. 

Diana Lillicrap 5.24.22

We all know our audiences have limited time and short attention spans. If you want to share a message that makes a meaningful connection, you need to be quick and concise. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. 

Shorter takes longer

Good editors recognize that being concise takes extra thought and more time. But it’s time well spent if you want to be sure your message will be received. That’s because most people are overwhelmed with noisy brands that spew out every reason why you should pick them. It’s exhausting and it leaves most of us craving plain speak that gets right to the point. 

The power of simplicity

As consumers, we know that simple experiences are generally better. We want things to be easy, streamlined, and quick. Amazon, Apple, Google, Target, and dozens of other successful consumer brands live this idea in everything they do. From user interfaces to iconic shapes to single color brand consistency, brand simplicity is the product of complex marketing. 

Applying simplicity to language 

Here are a few basic ways you can apply the approach of simplicity to your marketing messages to create language that’s clear, relatable, and effective. 

  1. Figure out the single, most important thing that you need to say in that moment, to that customer, through that channel. The answer won’t be the same for every application. Your brand is complex, but effective marketing works best if you can be specific and targeted. 
  2. Dump the business speak and insider jargon. After you’ve written your marketing copy, re-read it as though you know absolutely nothing about your business and what you’re selling. If a layman can’t understand it, it’s not plain speaking enough. 
  3. Pay attention to cadence and tempo. Human minds like symmetry and are constantly working to connect patterns. Make sure your copy sounds good to the ear and looks good to the eye. 
  4. Use contractions. We live in a time where contractions are the norm. Without them, your language will sound stuffy, clunky, or academic—probably not the voice you are aiming to achieve. 
  5. Just when you think you’re done, minimize it once more. Marketing language should be like a well-orchestrated outfit. Before you prepare to send it out the door, give it one last look and take off something extraneous. 

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