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Branding Basics: Showing vs. Telling
By: Janet Kalandranis
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This isn’t shocking new branding news. Showing versus telling is kinda an age-old branding tool. One that brands have been taught years ago, but sometimes a quick reminder can be good. It’s good to get back to basics and update an old lesson for today’s world. Most brands know that they need to be specific about what message they want the audience to remember. Break it down, make it simple, and always create a memorable thought. Brands that are able to deliver a clear and engaging message are those brands that cut through the clutter and present a lasting memory. But what’s even better; more engaging? Those brands that can show the message and make it clear instead of simply stating the words. Again, this isn’t new news, but one that deserves consistent attention because sometimes it’s easier to talk instead of show. It’s probably cheaper to talk, but the benefits and lasting effects of showing far outweigh simply stating a message. So spend the extra time, money, and energy to show because telling doesn’t always work.

Showing versus telling is not a new idea, but it’s important to emphasize how important this simple branding basic is for companies. And showing is different based on the message, the medium that is used, and of course the customer. For example, displaying fancy copy on a TV spot is technically showing, but is it really going to gain excitement and be remembered? Probably not. Brands need to create a “show” that has a lasting impression for its customers and makes a message simply and easily understood. Hyundai is currently running a TV spot called “10 Years” where the brand visually shows how long 10 years is, which is also how long many customers want to keep their cars. The brand shows a little girl and quickly flashes through 10 years of her life, from child, to kid, to young adult and teenager. Talk about showing and really getting the core audience to understand the message. Hyundai is talking to those parents, to those customers that want safety and reliability, and also those that understand 10 years when thinking about kids. It makes sense to the customer and for Hyundai it creates a real, lasting message.

Sure, not everything can be shown, but it’s important to understand how to show when possible. The benefit for the brand is a message that is heard and understood by the audience. Many times words fly away and customers just aren’t listening. But showing allows many customers to just “get it.” That's what every brand wants: customers that understand them as a brand and are able to get behind a message. Sometimes showing is the answer and keeping the words to a minimum is a good thing. It’s showing first and telling second.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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