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    Thursday
    Jun112009

    clarity - be kind to your customer

    One of the biggest adventures any company or individual has is winnowing down and communicating clearly what it is that they do. For me, climbing through 22 years of highly varied experience with computers required me to "eat my own dogfood" and run the same process that I use with individuals and companies. That and page after page of versions got me to my first one-paragraph description of "what I do" - ever.

    What guided me was a single thought: being clear would be kind to my audience and allow them to interact, connect, teach and hire me.

    In product design we spend quite a bit of time looking at who our users are and what they might want from us. We design and architect and then test our hypothesis, iterating until we get it right. What if we applied that same kind of attention to every piece of content and communication we produce – internal or external? What if our entire communication strategy was simple – be clear.

    I love looking at people's sites, portfolios and talking with them about what they really want to do in their business. As we look at their outward facing content it's easy to see what makes sense to them, what lights them up and also to see the things that are no longer in alignment. When we are able to see this clearly, it's usually a fairly simple process of figuring out what to get rid of and what to add in order to start communicating - better.

    I notice that the process with a big business really isn't that different.

    A few lessons I've been learning with this round of my own brand creation. Get to the point. Keep it simple. Be brave – get it out there and see what happens. Be authentic – only choose ways to communicate that make sense to you. Only show and write about things that you want to do. Keep asking yourself what it is that you really want to do. Keep tuning your communication. Ask people if they understand. Look at everything as if it wasn't yours. Pretend you're going to hire/buy/use based on the info you're looking at – did you get the info you need? If you change your mind about what you do – then update your information. How will your customers, colleagues and connections know about your changes unless you tell them?

    I knew that I had reached a good stopping place for the first round of my About page when my Mom and Dad said, "We actually understand what you do now." How cool is that?

    What are you doing to be clear with your customers? When was the last time you stopped and looked at your own brand/communication with fresh eyes? How do you determine what to keep and what to get rid of in your content?

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