Guest Column

Your story is a box of crayons

July 31, 2015
TAGS crayons / life / story
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Let’s talk about your story — the story of your organization and what communications pieces you use to color the picture of who you are and the “why” behind what you do.

Consider how sharp and perfect each crayon is in a new box of crayons. Oh, the possibilities of the masterpieces you can create with those eight crayons.

Let’s say the red crayon is social media. The orange is your website. The yellow is video. The green is your direct mail and print materials. The blue is your sponsorship efforts. Purple is advertising. Brown is public relations and black is your message.

As an agency, clients and potential clients approach us and say, “We need a new website.”

Many times they’re right, but it’s important to think about the content of that website. How would the picture look if the only color we used was orange? 

Or we hear: “We need a new website and help with social media.” Now we are looking at a picture that’s red and orange.

What’s missing? We’ve got brand new crayons, but our picture looks flat. Even with blending the two colors, it’s missing definition and the outline that help the colors make sense on the page.

What’s lacking is the message that makes the colors work together for the good of the whole picture. No matter what colors you choose — and for each organization it may be a little different — we need the black.

The black and white: the message in the communication space; the pen-to-paper story that gives the colors context and brings purpose to all the marketing communications you choose.

So, yes, you may need a website. Maybe other things, too. But what’s most important is your message and making your message the outline of your picture. Stick to it. It’s who you are. It defines you and differentiates you from the rest.

Then choose the colors that best fit how you tell your story so your stakeholders will engage with it and understand it best.

With a definitive message, you can put the communication and marketing pieces in place. You add shadowing, definition, depth. You need the black and white for your picture to come to life, to stand out. You need the colors too, to make it a piece of art.

So although you may be able to outsource a video here or a website there, or your social media to someone who does those things, be sure nobody is coloring with just one color. The black and white of your message, and how the colors work together across your organization within your outlined message, must be shared by all.

This is why it’s important to have a trusted communications partner work with you on your message. Your story. Defining who you are and what you say to the world.

Once that’s in place, the colors bring life to your message and the picture is worth 1,000 words.

Emily Staley is the director of client services at Boileau Communications Management in Holland, Mich.

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