“Four score and seven years ago…”

Jan 3, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Articles, Blog  //  Comments Off on “Four score and seven years ago…”

by Michael Tanenbaum

What does the Gettysburg Address have in common with the most enduring brands? What lessons does it hold for distinguishing your brand message from the marketplace clutter of your competitors?

The scenario:

President Lincoln and Senator EverettOn November 19, 1863, on a bloody battlefield outside the town of Gettysburg, a series of speakers presented in honor of 160,000 men killed in the battle. The keynote speaker was Senator Edward Everett, the leading orator of his day. He addressed the crowd of 15,000 people for over 2 ½ hours. His unremitting torrent of verbiage was instantly forgotten.

Taking the podium much later that day was President Abraham Lincoln. He was placed a nondescript sixth in the day’s lineup of music, prayer and oratory. Lincoln delivered a two-minute speech. In 246 words, he laid out a vision for the United States that is still memorized in its entirety by American schoolchildren.

When promoting a brand message, most people have the tendency to use the kitchen sink approach: Toss in as many ideas, promises and slogans as they can and pray that the customer or audience remembers something.

That is a recipe for failure.

President Lincoln’s message was concise, compelling and coherent, his word choice carefully crafted. By contrast, Senator Everett’s keynote address was sprawling, verbose and unmemorable.

Aristotle wrote that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Over two millennia later, this concept is as profound as ever. Follow it. It will grant you distinction. It will buy you customers. It will earn you consumer loyalty. It will elevate your brand to the highest esteem.

See this website for a side-by-side comparison of the two Gettysburg addresses that day.

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