What is it that makes some brand communications pieces compelling and others bland, feeble or even invisible? Well, we’ve got a theory for that, based on these three principles: Engagement, Evocation (or sometimes Provocation) and Connection.


Compelling communications pieces are like apples: they’ve got appealing, shiny red exteriors (pantone 485, aasman red of course) to attract attention, tasty and wholesome stuff to sink your teeth into, and a core that represents the essential idea of “apple-ness.”

To develop compelling communications, you need to start at the core of the apple, with:

  • a thorough understanding of your own brand values
  • how they relate to your particular audience, and
  • a clear articulation of the specific thing you want to say to them.

This is the simple, unvarnished Core Message: the information that your organization needs to communicate to an identified audience. However, this is not necessarily how you want to say it.

That’s because compelling communications results when you engage an audience emotionally, not intellectually. It’s about desire, fear and happiness, not numbers, information and rationale (although those can play a role later). And the reason for that, as Terry O’Reilly likes to say, is that you can’t logic your way into someone’s heart. To engage an audience, you must project, ask or state some aspect of your core message in a way that evokes an emotional response.

We call that the Shiny Red Message — the SRM.

Next time: En = EvSRM + MCM (Theory of Compelling Communications)


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