Keep it simple

If you’re reading this post, you’re living in the extremely complex world of energy, conservation and/or sustainability. You’re working on Big, Complex Things all day long, and at some point you have to communicate with an intended audience about those things.

In our observation, that’s where the problem starts. We’ve worked with dozens and dozens of companies over the years who do wonderful things to make the world – and our environment – a better place. In fact, we haven’t met a client yet who had nothing worthwhile to say about their efforts related to conservation or social and environmental responsibility. The problem with most organizations we talk with is that they have so much to say, and they’re trying to say it all.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) had a similar problem. With powerful businesses, they’ve created a remarkably ingenious approach to effect real environmental change in the supply chain. But while the process is effective, it, like the supply chain it was designed to impact, is also extremely complex.

So we sat down with EDF and evaluated the multiple entry points and endless moving parts of businesses’ supply chains, and we developed a story strategy that would not only communicate the effectiveness of EDF’s process but also provide some basic educational information on how the supply chain as a whole works.

The result was a compelling narrative that boiled down to a mechanically simple concept: the lever.

This video lives in the context of a web landing page we also created to further tell the story with plain-speaking words and a highly interactive infographic. The look and feel of it all is meant to make it approachable, to help the reader/viewer open up to a complex idea vs. turning away right off the bat because it looks too hard (which is how many sustainability stories come across … lots of explanation, much scientific/engineering speak). The end result is an engaging story that allows the intended audiences to understand the genius of the process and thus utilize the various tools to effect real change.

Many great ideas go unrealized not because they themselves are flawed but because of a failure to communicate them in a simple and concise fashion that will cause people to engage. It’s been said that clear is the new clever, and that’s being proven more relevant by the day as we’re bombarded by even more media, more messages, more ways to connect.

Successful brands and products find a way to communicate the complexity of their offerings in the simplest terms possible. So when it comes to telling your story, remember that people don’t want to be impressed by how complex something is. They want to be wowed by how simply and powerfully it functions.

Skills

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Posted on

August 12, 2015

About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Glen L. Vesser III

VP Finance and Administration

Glen manages Shelton Group’s finances and administration, ensuring our internal systems run smoothly so we can provide exceptional client service in a seamless and timely manner. Glen’s financial and administrative expertise has been shaped by decades of experience in a variety of industries, including public accounting, media distribution and health care.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.