The Hemingway Challenge: Reaching your Audience with Brevity and Wit - ThinkJPC

The Hemingway Challenge: Reaching your Audience with Brevity and Wit

Shakespeare is quoted as saying “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It’s true in art, and it’s even truer in advertising.

There is a natural human affection for a message that’s transmitted succinctly. Yet, whether it’s an elevator pitch or a tweet, what brands often struggle most with is communicating in an efficient, witty manner, and the effect can be detrimental to your customer engagement.

You might be familiar with the Hemingway Challenge; it’s a writing exercise with the goal of telling a compelling story – in just six words. The (unsubstantiated) legend goes that the author Ernest Hemingway was in a bar and charged with penning a tale in six words or less. His response (allegedly) was: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Although a rather extreme example of the virtues of brevity in fiction, the Hemingway Challenge should immediately resonate with those who work in social media, and anyone who’s had to quickly pitch an idea. Even when not confined to the 140-character limit of Twitter, engagement over practically every platform must be sharp and to the point, as messages rarely have a shelf life greater than a few, fleeting moments. Done right, you’ll have someone’s undivided attention for far longer.

You don’t need to tell the story of your brand in six words or less, but the spirit of the Hemingway Challenge should permeate your communications strategy. Your brand should be able to reach out to your audience with an economy of words that carry weight, resonate emotionally, and dare them to learn more about your business.