The basic concept of some products predicts failure. Not because they don’t work, but because they don’t make sense. Consider Mennen’s vitamin E deodorant. That’s right, you sprayed a vitamin under your arm. It doesn’t make sense unless you want the healthiest, best-fed armpits in the nation. It quickly failed.
Consider the Apple Newton. It was a fax, beeper, calendar keeper, and pen-based computer. Too complex. It’s gone and the much simpler Palm Pilot is an enormous success. The best way to really enter minds that hate complexity and confusion is to oversimplify your message. Some of the most powerful programs are those that focus on a single word. (Wells Fargo: fast. Volvo: safety. Listerine: kills germs.)
The lesson here is not to try to tell your entire story. Just focus on one powerful differentiating idea and drive it into the mind. That sudden hunch, that creative leap of the mind that ‘‘sees’’ in a ﬂash how to solve a problem in a simple way, is something quite different from general intelligence.
If there’s any trick to ﬁnding that simple set of words, it’s one of being ruthless about how you edit the story you want to tell. Anything that others could claim just as well as you can, eliminate. Anything that requires a complex analysis to prove, forget. Anything that doesn’t ﬁt with your customers’ perceptions, avoid.