Relativity, Narrowness and Names

My son, who is three and a bit, is obsessed with organizing things by size. Cups, toys, trains. Is the red cup bigger than the yellow one? Is the brown bear smaller than the white one? It’s all about relativity. Why is this?

At a workshop I gave in Bellingham on St. Patrick’s Day, I shared that there were 36.5 million people of Irish heritage in the U.S. That’s nine times the population of Ireland. Which number do you think they remembered at the end of the workshop: 36.5 or 9? That’s right, 9. And not just because it’s smaller. But because it was relative.  We train our brains from a very early age to compare and contrast. Absolutes are tough to wrap our brains around. My son will not grow out of his penchant for comparing; he’ll grow into it.

We spent a fair amount of time at Tune-Up Tuesday thinking about relativity as it relates (ha, ha) to messaging.

Lesson: use relativity to your advantage so people remember your organization and mission.

Two other key take-aways from this month’s meet-up:

  1. Personas are powerful. They are also hard to do. They force us to be specific and think deeply about one type of person who cares about our cause rather than the universe of people who might. Lesson: Deep and narrow beats shallow and wide when it comes to messaging.
  2. Names matter. A lot. If your organization goes by an acronym, be consistent about using that acronym. If you have an acronym AND you use the full name, you’re managing two brands. That’s expensive and erodes brand equity. Lesson: When it comes to names and acronyms, use one or the other but not both.

For those that were there, anything to add? For those that coudn’t join, what were you hoping to cover?

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