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August 20, 2014
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The Evolution of a Headline

August 20, 2014

After our initial messaging session yesterday, we presented our value propositions as well as the standout phrasing and concepts to the rest of the team during lunch, explaining briefly the core of each idea. Then, we let the team iterate for a couple minutes, and contribute additional messaging which informed additional headline writing. It's amazing what just a couple minutes of fresh thought from a whole group can do for breaking through a (messaging) wall or brain cramp!

Today, we took the Post-Its from the team, sorted them into themes, and continued to refine some of the new concepts they brought up. Here's the evolution one phrase took:

While we liked the original spirit and warm-fuzziness of the original, something about the command "embrace" rang a little bit off – it seemed to be telling the listener that they needed to change themselves. 

The second iteration substituted "A place" for "Embrace." While this sounded more welcoming – the language itself wasn't very strong, and seemed a bit vague. If you're going to use a phrase as unique or playful as "spirit animals," you better have a more interesting setting than just "A place" – which sounds too vanilla for the context.

The third and fourth iterations are more direct, retaining the playfulness while placing "Sprit animals" at the front-end of the concept. But again, the strength of the phrase declines when using permissive, optional words like "allowed" or "welcome." You wouldn't walk up to your spirit animal, open the gate, and say, "Hey Spirit Animal, you can come in. I guess." It's allowing for playfulness and warmth without encouraging it.

The final phrasing was "Spirit animals mandatory." This phrase retains the strength and impact of a short sentence fragment, while pairing it with a strong concept – you have to have a spirit animal, which, in this case, implies fun, warmth, and a bit of silliness. Digging a little deeper, using a loaded term like "mandatory," commonly associated with serious work, or HR, law, or politics, and pairing it with a playful concept helps flip the term on its head for maximum effect. It implies seriousness, while juxtaposing it with kind-hearted levity. The best of both worlds!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my spirit animal is clearly an otter. What about you?