Congruent Messaging Critical to Effective Advertising

Being Congruent Is Key to Conveying Your Message

Take a look at the image for this post. It is for a local Bozeman business. The ad at first glance is selling you breakfast, fresh food, and good times. The top message ” So good you will want to lick our skillets”.  Can you find something wrong with this poster?

Before I get into what is wrong, I want to cover a key concept in messaging. You want to be congruent with your messaging. The word congruent originates from the Latin word congruere meaning ‘to agree, meet together’. Webster’s New World Dictionary expands this to include “harmonious, corresponding, and conformity.”

As a marketer, I encourage clients to be congruent when communicating their message. This means they align their images, color, text, messages, and stories so that all aspects of their message come into agreement. When they strike the chord of congruence, everyone knows it: their message is believable and compelling, the audience is attracted to their suggestions and willing to support their cause, or make the purchase.

Think about this same point of congruency when it comes to public speaking. It is up to the person on stage to connect with the audience. Research has shown that listeners are influenced only 7% by the content of a presentation. The 93% balance comes from the speaker’s voice and body language. Sales research done in the 1990’s in the US and the UK revealed that more than half of the time, a prospect decided within the first two minutes whether they would buy from that person. Harvard research also demonstrated that we “know” someone’s competence with 80% accuracy.

So when the message says one thing and the image, voice, and body conveys another, the audience reverts to questioning the agenda rather than listening and starts judging instead; or worse, switches their attention to distractions like text messaging or making to-do lists. The result? The advertisement becomes ineffective.

It is folly to think you can fool an audience. The audience may not be sold on the ideas presented if the speaker is in some way inharmonious with her or his message. The audience looks for congruence, the alignment of your message with your choice of color, music, or images as the clue to your credibility.

So do you see what is wrong with the poster? Do you see how the graphic artist became cute with the eggs and bacon layout? How does that image align with the idea that you want to lick their skillets?

Let me know what you think of the two different messages shown in the poster.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Syme November 9, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Not sure I see the two different messages there. The pirate-logo take on bacon and eggs fits their style, I think.Both the tagline and the logo are a little quirky, but so is the restaraunt. I eat there quite a bit and the wait staff, menu, and environemnt there is very creative and laid back. Because you didn’t define the two different messages you said the ad portrayed, I don’t really see what you mean. More info needed.

bmetzger November 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I have never eaten at Nova, so I would not know they like the pirate logo. I take it as the universal symbol for poison (dressed up as eggs and bacon). If they would have had a pirate themed poster with Captain Jack and all the fixings, then the skulls and crossbones design would work. It’s about making sure the messaging fits together.

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