How to drive up the message communication within your advertising

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

message communicationCommunication is not what is said but what is heard. The best brand communication happens when you focus on the one benefit that moves consumers, by creatively amplifying, telling the story behind your brand purpose, using extreme demonstrations or powerful visuals. 

Stop thinking of your ads like a bulletin board where you can pin up one more message. Start thinking as though you are shouting through a bullhorn in a crowded square. Tell me the ONE message you need to make sure the consumer hears.

The data behind brand communications

The Milward Brown data show the more messages you put in an ad, the less likely the consumer will recall your main message. Looking at the chart, it shows when an ad has one message, the average main message recall by consumers is 37%. For ads with two messages, the main message recall goes down to 31%, and for three messages, the main message recall goes down to 26%. On top of that, the recall of the third message recall is only 11%, almost worthless to the advertising. 

message communication

Focus on one message, starting with the brief, and you will increase your message communication scores. Here are four techniques to look at increasing your brand communication:  

1. Creatively amplify your brand’s consumer benefit  

Bring the idea to life by exaggerating the worst version of the consumer’s enemy, to help set up your brand as the solution that will move consumers to buy. This technique results in some of my favorite Ads.  

A great example of amplifying your consumer benefit is the Snickers Super Bowl ad with Betty White playing football with a bunch of college-aged guys. After a bad play by Betty, one of the buddies yells at her that she is “not playing like her normal self.” He then hands Betty a Snickers bar and Betty turns back into the college-aged football player. The ad uses the consumer insight of, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” to set up the consumer benefit of how Snickers satisfies your hunger. This technique is a great combination that would fit with many brands.

Berlitz used a scenario of a German Coast Guard operator who takes on an SOS distress call of a boat that was “sinking.” His response of, “What are you thinking about?” is an incredibly fun way to highlight the importance of language training.

There is also a great Ikea ad about a woman who throws out her old lamp, suggesting she should go to Ikea and get a new lamp instead. While the ad tries to get you to feel sorry for the tired, old lamp, as it sits by the corner of the driveway in the rain, along comes a strange Swedish man in the pouring rain, who suggests “Why do you feel sorry for this lamp? It’s just a lamp. New is always better.” This ad is an excellent demonstration of how disposable furniture is, and how good it feels to replace the old, tired options. 

2. Tell the story behind your brand purpose to move consumers and employees

Use your brand’s values, beliefs, and purpose to express your brand’s background story in an engaging way that will move the consumer. 

Apple’s “Think different” campaign relaunched the Apple brand in 1997, with a script that said, “The crazy ones are crazy enough to change the world.” This ad showed some of the most famous people in history, including Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Gandhi, John Lennon, Amelia Earhart, and Muhammad Ali. To me, the ad was just as much of an internal brand message designed to inspire the internal Apple culture to push for greatness to believe they are crazy enough. 

In the 1960s, Avis used the “We try harder” brand idea to show various ways how as the #2 brand, they have to work harder than Hertz, the leader. They have to be nice, clean the ashtrays, make sure the tires are filled up, leaving you to wonder if Hertz cared about those details. This message is the perfect internal rallying cry to inspire the internal staff to try harder and be better. America always loves an underdog story. Embrace the copy of these great ads. It is fantastic.    

message communication

While nearly every Super Bowl ad is loud and funny, Dodge Ram used a quietly dramatic ad, using Paul Harvey’s famous radio show recording called, “God created a farmer.” The ad is set against gorgeous photos of hard-working farmers, telling a classic working-class America story. It is a highly inspiring, optimistic story that will give you patriotic goose bumps.    

3. Extreme demonstration of the consumer benefit 

Find a creative extreme torture test to showcase your brand’s most motivating consumer benefit. 

A great example an extreme demonstration is the Impulse perfume ad from the UK. One of the most difficult creative challenges is to demonstrate the impact of a perfume scent visually. The ad tells the story of a nude male model in an art class. While he is at the front of the room, in walks a female student who walks past him, and he obviously smells her perfume, and becomes “aroused.” While we don’t see anything, it has become visibly evident to everyone in the art class. 

Rolls-Royce used a highly creative demonstration to show how quiet their cars are, with a print ad with the headline, “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” This type of copy line makes the consumer think.

Back in the 1960s, Timex watches used highly engaging torture tests, including smashing the watches or holding them underwater, to demonstrate how a Timex watch “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

4. Move consumers through a powerful visual

Take what should be the obvious benefit and bring it to life through a glorious visual demonstration.

One of my favorite ads is the Honda spot that utilizes a chain of colliding parts taken from a disassembled Honda Accord in a falling domino effect. As an engineering dominant company, the main consumer benefit of precision is a perfect fit with the Honda brand. The spot took 600+ takes to get it just right. It only aired 10 times, during high-profile sporting events. The ad helped the Honda UK business turn around from a declining brand to 28% sales growth the next year.


To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link:

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link:

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits, and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.


Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.



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