A Broadly Specific Design

By design, many of the messages we see every day are broadly specific.

Here’s a definition of broadly specific messaging – “A memorable or stirring statement that uses broad and specific elements.”

For a mental picture, being broadly specific is like climbing a mountain. On the peak of the mountain sits a massive oak tree. The mountain represents all the ideas and considerations made to arrive at a final idea. If you’ve arrived at a broadly specific idea or message, you’ll discover an oak tree. The oak tree is a strong idea that can grow into a massive oak that allows you to travel up and down branches connected to the trunk.

Crafting the English language in a way that expresses an idea or ideal is an art form. To stir someone to action, to incite loyalty, to cause immediate recall of a “core message” is often developed by businesses, marketers, and personalities to shape how the public feels about them, or align their own people behind a vision or mission. These statements often act as restraints on what is and what is not acceptable to do/show.

Let’s start with a few examples of categories where being broadly specific is incredibly helpful.

Mission and Vision Statements

Tesla – To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Google – To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Apple – To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.

Nike – To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

BMW – To become the world’s leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility.

Facebook – To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

Instagram – To capture and share the world’s moments.

Coke – To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.

Arguably, some of these statements may be old, but each aligns with the concept of being broadly specific.

So let’s dissect one to show you how they use both elements and then we’ll contrast that with some uses in marketing messaging. A great “broadly specific” statement clearly outlines a destination while leaving enough latitude to explore the environment on the way to that destination. Consider Tesla, most known for creating and launching electric cars. Their mission allows them to focus on more than just cars. If you check their website you’ll discover other products that support the mission such as wireless phone chargers, power walls, solar panels for your home, thousands of charging stations across the country, apps, software and several others. Although many of these products were necessary to allow their vehicles to be functional in the world today, they continue to innovate and design new product offerings in service of their mission and partnerships with companies like SolarCity. This is the power of a broadly specific statement.

A poor second-rate statement might be plopped in with Wendy’s – To deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation and partnerships. It’s the kinda statement that everyone could slap on their company.

Slogans and Ad Statements

At B&C we are constantly developing ideas and crafting marketing campaigns for our clients. This is one of the principles we use when working on slogans, headlines, and other messaging. Slogans and advertising messages are often wrapped in broadly specific statements or ideals intended to create immediate, real, and actionable desires. Remember the mountain? Advert lines and slogans are all the ideas that make up the mountain. Climb the mountains by narrowing down ideas until a peak emerges at which a whole new exciting world opens up. Then climb the tree.  

Consider these slogans and ad statements you might know:

OldSpice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

McDonald’s – “I’m Lovin’ It”

Skittles – “Taste the Rainbow”

Dr. Pepper – “What’s the worst that could happen”

Coke – “Share A Coke”

Snickers – “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

Boars Head – “Compromise elsewhere.”

Consider Snickers’ tagline “You’re not you when you’re hungry”. This one line is specific to a type of moment in time but broad enough to allow for dozens, and dozens of stories and ideas to be built on. A trickier one is the Boars Head or Skittles slogans. Both follow the same structure as the Snicker’s line but require you to use a follow-up statement when creating a campaign off of it. For Skittles, the question might be “What happens when you do?”. Now, the imagination can run wild. For Boars Head you might ask “What happens when you don’t?” Great lines embody an emotion or human sense that begs the imagination to do what it does best. Imagine. This is a keyhole into a world of ideas not yet created and allows you a structure to go responsibly wild.

How to Construct a Broadly Specific Statement

The art of crafting a broadly specific statement is a difficult one. However, there are some principles that help shape what a great statement looks like.

  1. Self Awareness – As a brand, an individual, a non-looker of an audience…know who you(they) are and the ideals/values you are aiming for.
  2. Develop a love for crafting your language.
  3. Develop a process that results in these ideas.
    1. This is the most challenging one as there may be a lot of trial and error here. But consider this a process of refining. Climb the mountain. Start with a ton of things and winnow up to a peak.  

As an agency we’ve crafted quite a few campaigns and slogans that we’re proud of listed below.

Roscoe Brown – Yep we do that.  Check out our portfolio page.

Singer – Make ____________ Check out our portfolio page. 

STEAM FEST – Be Brilliant – Steam Fest from the Discovery Center was about discovering everyday science within your community 

MTEMC – Experience Membership  – View our work here.  

One of the most recent projects where we used this approach, was with a launching company called LIFT Chattanooga. We helped them develop their mission and vision statements. Take a look below.

Mission Statement
The LIFT Center serves nonprofits and socially minded businesses by connecting those entities to funding, resources, and collaboration, facilitating positive life-change to the marginalized in our community.

Vision Statement
We will LIFT the disadvantaged of our community to higher levels of transformation in their lives.