What makes good messaging?

Who knows, honestly, who knows? Well, we kind of know…

It’s partially subjective to individual taste and always contextually relevant to the brand, but there are critically objective notes to consider. Take these film taglines as simple examples:

‘From the brother of the director of Ghost’ — Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult

Thoughts: It’s beautiful. It’s exquisite. It tells you everything about the product without telling you anything about the product: it’s a clever, irreverent, comedy.

Lesson: tone is a powerful representational tool when conveying information. This is the messaging equivalent of ‘actions speak louder than words’.

‘Talking just causes witnesses’ — Winter’s Bone

Thoughts: What? Is this a silent movie? What’s the vibe? Is the most dramatic part of this film someone talking? As the audience, I don’t care about the answers to any of these questions.

Context: it’s a quote from the movie. Does the audience this tagline is directed towards know it’s a quote from the movie? No. They specifically don’t. Awful.

Lesson: always remain cognisant that your audience does not share your knowledge of your product, nothing can be assumed.

  • Bad messaging is off-putting and detracts from the product
  • Mediocre messaging ambivalently delivers facts
  • Good messaging is an insightful, additive playground

Language is a fickle mistress

I’ve always been hung up on the idea that language creates an artificial barrier around our experiences.

A simple example:

Every time we feel happiness, we’re happy in a distinct and nuanced way, a unique recipe of internal and external factors, but we internalise this little infinity of potential emotions as simply ‘happy’.

The Dutch have this word, gezellig, which very poorly translates as ‘happiness derived from social cosiness’. When I learned about gezellig, I started acknowledging the specific nature of that happiness; I could experience moments with a depth and richness that I hadn’t previously identified.

This is how language shapes experience. And, to make this a whole lot less romantic and a lot more pragmatic, that same principle applies to brand messaging.

How can we escape this restrictive nature of language, or employ it to our benefit, when talking about new ideas and new technology?

  • Educational messaging becomes crucial: a long term goal is to expand worldview
  • Accessibility: messaging needs to avoid impregnable jargon
  • Clarity is key: why waste time say lot word when few word do trick
  • Restriction becomes a strength: we get to shape the experience

What messaging do we need for Banked?

Vision

Example: Make payments as easy as breathing.

This is a great concept but as a message as it’s absent of how/what/why/when. It is meaningless in isolation and largely superfluous to customers, who care about our value proposition.

Vision is an internal impetus for goal-oriented decision-making, a collective team dream only ever externally implied by our products and brand. It’s important messaging, but it’s just for us.

Mission

Our core product is, in big-picture-hoopla terms, a new set of global rails for payments to move instantly, directly, from account-to-account. It’s a complete digital overhaul of how payments interact, creating the cheapest, most efficient, and bank-agnostic infrastructure for real-time transactions in any currency.

Product

In product terms, Banked is a PISP: API + checkout. Banked’s API can be implemented anywhere digital transactions are made, from Amazon to emerging behaviours like social payments.

In addition to this, we have specifically targeted functionality (e.g. batch payments), satellite products (e.g. the Banked app), and use cases (e.g. charity payment links).

Audience

Our audience isn’t straightforward. We’re predominantly B2B, but developers can use our API to create their own payments tools.

Oh, and literally anyone with a UK bank account can use the Banked app to start receiving money from anyone for anything (like splitting a bill with friends or charging for piano lessons).

Sheesh, right? I don’t even think the Dutch have a word for all that.

So, the challenge?

Considering all of the above, compose snappy, informative, interlinked, narrative-conscious, consistent messaging, that doesn’t undersell our vision, avoids hyperbolic trite, and makes it independently clear to investors, businesses, developers, and individuals why Banked is for them.

And it must all be done from within the brand persona: we need to apply those Naked Gun tactics to surreptitiously convey our brand values.

But…

To end on a slightly more personal note, the nature of this challenge is a complete pleasure. Getting to play a part in crafting the public emergence of such an innovative product, from a team with a revolutionary yet realistic vision, is a fortuitous pressure.

It’s a lot, it’s a huge responsibility to delicately compartmentalise someone else’s brilliance so that it becomes digestible and marketable. I met Brad (our CEO) for the first time back in August of last year, and was subject to a passionate, frenetic, hour-long speech about changing the world. I came away from that meeting confused and overwhelmed, but damn did I want to go to bat for his vision.

Both technology and finance also come with their own unique hurdles around trust, security, and conversion that create additional complexity. There are certain things that will naturally get easier over time, considerations that exist now but not later, and vice versa, and it all needs to be baked into the brand’s narrative plan.

But, and here’s the real message of this piece, the reward and potential of working for a company like Banked far outweighs the negatives. Imagine having to do all this for something easy. For something that didn’t excite you. For something banal and soulless, and for a team you didn’t believe in. Now that would be a real challenge.