An ad agency creative director friend of mine shares the story of a client meeting for an important new brand launch. Like many clients, this one had many equally important selling points they insisted needed to be communicated to their audiences.

My friend sat quietly taking notes as the discussion continued around him. When the subject turned to creative execution of the brand messaging, he grabbed an armload of ping pong balls — perhaps a half dozen, each of which he had been quietly noting with one of the selling points that was being discussed — and gently lobbed the entire armload to the client to catch.

The client was able to catch one ball, with one message noted. And he was lucky to catch any at all given the sudden deluge.

Completing the metaphor, my friend suggested that today’s far flung marketing world requires a client focus on one singular message, reinforced time and again in all brand touch points. Because audiences will only catch and hold onto one message about the brand that’s tossed to them.

And, though I wasn’t there to confirm, it’s unlikely the ball caught by the client represented the single above-all-most-important message the client would have chosen to communicate. No doubt, the client would agree it would be better to cull the balls down to the primary message desired, and then toss only that ball out for the audience to more easily catch.

You, too, have many things that need to be said about your brand. Culling it down to the one most important ball isn’t easy, but it’s the way to ensure your audiences catch the message you want them to.

I’ve written before about brand positioning and value proposition — two elements of a brand platform that provide focus for your brand messaging, and a standard for how you deliver your brand touch points to reinforce that messaging focus. Nail these and you’ll be in the game in no time.

Need help sorting through all this? 34 North is ready and able to do so.