Tag Archive: Less is More


The BMW Museum and BMW World are located directly across from each other at the headquarters of the luxury auto/motorcycle designer/manufacturer in München.

Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., Bavarian Motor Works or BMW) adopted the tag, keeping faith with the “Rule of Three”: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Based upon the company’s expert use of the English language and conceivably the home German Sprache as well, BMW achieved the much desired marketing goal of less is more.

Translated, BMW was able to deliver a compelling message to its target audiences (i.e., customers, media, shareholders, suppliers) using an economy of words. At the same time, each word has purpose with a powerful amplifying adjective to enhance the corporate brand and to drive sales (no pun intended).

And for the most part there is little repetition of words and no clichés (see “solutions”).

Here is how BMW at its museum describes its legendary design and engineering prowess:

 

Let’s breakdown BMW’s 101-word statement by sentence with a focus on carefully selected nouns and powerful modifying adjectives. The Almost DailyBrett (ADB) commentary follows each sentence.

“At BMW, designs are created by people for people.

ADB: The brand is immediately identified. Short, punchy attention-grabbing opening.

“In an inspiring culture of dialogue, a wide variety of disciplines, expertise and experience are combined to become an unrivaled creative force.

ADB: Skillful use of the Rule of Three: disciplines, expertise and experience. Powerful adjectives modifying concluding noun – unrivaled creative force.

“The common goal is to achieve the perfect harmonious development process for designing a vehicle.

ADB: BMW designers and engineers work as a team, using “the perfect harmonious development process … .” All organizations seek out skillful team players.

“The unique feature of this process is the internal design competition.

ADB: The “unique” feature is “competition” in internal design. As Martha would say, creative tension is a ‘Good thing.’

“It ensures the power of innovation is always present.

ADB: “Power” and “Innovation” are two of the most vibrant words in any language

“Only a strong team with a professional approach can successfully complete this demanding competitive stage.

ADB: This statement misses no opportunities to present compelling nouns with enhancing adjectives: Strong before team; Successfully before complete; Demanding and competitive before stage.

“Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection and a passion for every single detail are the key elements in producing a successful design.”

ADB: Rule of Three once again – Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection. Pathos or passion for every single detail. Key modifying elements. Strong verb: producing. Successful before design.

Let’s face it. Marketing in the 21st Century is far too many times subject to clichés or lazy combinations of buzz words.

For example, FedEx shamefully took the overused “Sustainable” and the mind-numbing “Solutions” and came up with … you guessed it … “Sustainable Solutions” for its ad about how the package carrying company’s planes and trucks protect the critters in the forest.

Gag!

How’s that for green washing on steroids?

Less is More

“The way in which information is exchanged so quickly has forever changed the way in which people want to consume information. They demand that things be condensed into 20-second sound bites. With complex problems, this is exceedingly difficult, but to be an effective communicator and leader you need to be able to condense complex items down to the core and be able to do this quickly.” – Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

Certainly, BMW is not the only company on the planet that makes the most out of the least number of words. Having said that, BMW is mindful of Prime Minister Blair’s admonition, which is particularly relevant in our microscopic-attention span, texting culture.

 

Here are the nouns that BMW chronologically chose to tell the story: Designs, Culture, Dialogue, Disciplines, Expertise, Experience, Force, Goal, Development Process, Features, Competition, Power, Innovation, Team, Approach, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Perfection, Passion.

Now let’s examine the adjectives – once again in chronological sequence – to amplify the nouns to present BMW’s engineering culture: Inspiring, Unrivaled. Creative, Perfect, Harmonious, Unique, Internal, Strong, Professional, Demanding, Competitive, Successful.

Almost DailyBrett is fired up after reviewing that list.

As an assistant professor of public relations, investor relations and integrated marketing communications, your author knows the bottom line is to tell the story, and to tell it well.

BMW achieved this worthy goal in just 101 skillfully chosen words and bolstered the legendary, iconic brand as well.

Wunderbar!

Four monosyllabic words.

Ever ask a brilliant person for the time, and he or she essentially tells you how to build a clock?

Is it better to say: “Terminate the illumination” or “Turn out the lights?”

There may be genius or two, who is not so sure.

Guess the Heath Brothers, Chip and Dan, (authors of Made to Stick) were right when they discussed those who can never overcome, “The curse of knowledge.”

We live in a world of 280-character-or-less Tweets and 20-second sound bites, not 400-page dissertations (except for those defending a Ph.D)

Having said that, some are not comfortable with our reduced attention spans caused by an unprecedented and unrelenting global information overload.

Deal with it.

Four monosyllabic words

Evening In America?

In many cases, monosyllabic statements and answers simply don’t cut it.

But there are times, particularly when it comes to persuasive communication, when less is indeed, more.

Actor Kurt Russell reenacted the late Coach Herb Brooks’ February 22, 1980 pre-game pep talk to the U.S. Olympic hockey team in Lake Placid, N.Y. before they played the mighty Soviet Union.

It was the height of the Cold War, the Soviets were running wild in Afghanistan, the U.S. was virtually helpless in its efforts to free 52 diplomats held hostage in Iran, and the country was suffering a “crisis of confidence”… at least according to the leader of the free world.

It was Evening in America.

The country needed a big time lift, and it came from a group of essentially college student-athletes. They were being asked to accomplish the impossible as depicted in the Disney movie, Miracle. 

Every Word Counts

Brooks was not Mr. Personality. He was not Mr. Congeniality. That’s not what the U.S. hockey program wanted or needed.

He was tough. He knew that his team needed to stay with the Soviet ice machine for 60 minutes, something that had not been done in two decades.

He was the coach of his players, but certainly not their friend.

He prepared them for the biggest opportunity of their lives, and then the moment came right before they took the ice against the mighty USSR.

Brooks’ two-minute speech was only 124 words, and every word counted. There is a beauty in their simplicity. They were incredibly effective. I get chills every time I watch the speech. I want to charge onto the ice as well.

Less Is More

As communicators what can we learn from Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Brooks? After all, it is only a film. Shouldn’t we dismiss any serious discussion of this speech because it was reenacted for the purpose of a movie?

We can, but we would miss the point.

If we are preparing a bumper sticker, a billboard, an infographic, an advertisement, a PowerPoint presentation, a speech and even a pep talk, the simpler can be better.

Consider the effectiveness of two monosyllabic words: “One game.”

How about: “Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world?”

The theme undoubtedly is: “This is your time.”

Conversely: “Their time is done.”

And just in case one did not get the point: “It’s over.”

The imperative: “Screw em” is universal in its meaning.

And of course, repetition is the key to learning: “This is your time.”

And finally: “Now go out there and take it!”

The door was probably not big enough for the team to take the ice all at the same time.

An American Hero

For many, and count me in this crowd, Herb Brooks is an American hero.

He was the last man cut from the 1960 Olympic Team that beat the Russians and won the Gold Medal in Squaw Valley, California.

He was severely criticized for his coaching techniques, but stuck to his convictions. The rest is history.

Brooks died way-too-young at 66 years old in a one-car crash in 2003. Thankfully, drugs and/or alcohol were not the culprit. He should have worn his seat belt.

May he rest in peace. Thank you Disney and Kurt Russell for such a fitting tribute.

And for reminding us the most simple communication can at times be the most effective. In our increasingly complex world, we sometimes need to appreciate that less is indeed more. 

“Great moments are born from great opportunity. 

And that’s what you have here tonight, boys. 

That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. 

One game. 

If we played them 10 times, they might win nine. 

But not this game. 

Not tonight. 

Tonight, we skate with them. 

Tonight we stay with them. 

And we shut them down because we can. 

Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. 

You were born to be hockey players – every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight. 

This is your time. 

Their time is done. 

It’s over. 

I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. 

Screw ’em. 

This is your time. 

Now go out there and take it!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwpTj_Z9v-c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYscemhnf88

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herb_Brooks

http://www.masterschannel.com/this-is-my-story/miracle-coach-brooks-addresses-team-pre-game

http://www.legacy.com/ns/news-story.aspx?t=herb-brooks–miracle-man&id=1253

http://heathbrothers.com/books/made-to-stick/

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