The Top 10 List Of Elements Most Often Lacking In A Company’s Marketing Materials.

Next to your actual sales force and your own undeniable powers of persuasiveness, web sites, corporate brochures and identity kits should be among your hardest working marketing tools.

In order to make sure you’re maximizing the power of these tools, I have put together a checklist of attributes which no self-respecting corporate identity package should be without.

1. Synergy With Your Company’s Overall Image.
This synergy is the key to building awareness of your company as a brand. Everything should look like everything else, because that’s what makes you look professional.

. A Strong Selling Proposition.
Without it you might as well just write your communications materials in Latin.

3. An Appealing Look & Positive Feel…
that’s both ‘in character’ and inviting to read. People read things that look appealing and interesting. Anything else, they tend to ignore.

4. Consistent Narrative Logic Flow From Top To Bottom.
Bad grammar is running rampant in communications these days. Bad grammar can make you look like a not-so-bright, and therefore not-so-trustworthy company.

. Obvious Corporate Identification.
It’s all the rage in the design world to play down logos. But that’s how most readers end up missing them.

6. First Person Focus
If you’re always talking ‘to’ your prospects as opposed to ‘at’ them, chances are they’ll be paying greater attention to what you have to say. Never talk about your company in the third person. If you do, people will think you’re weird.

7. Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity…
in the use of supporting language and graphics. Remember, you know more about your business than anyone you are talking to. Showing respect for what they don’t know will always be rewarded.

8. A Definite Selling Attitude Throughout.
If your communication isn’t selling your company, it’s unselling your company.

9. Testimonial & Case Study Support
Your satisfied customers are, bar none, your best salepersons. Anything that quantifies results is going to be more meaningful to your readers than abstract notions or platitudes. You’ll be surprised how powerful these underused selling techniques can be.

10. Concrete Reasons Why The Prospect Should Be Doing Business With You.
Too many companies fill their communications with reasons why they are so great, but they seldom turn it around and give their prospects a real sense of what’s in it for them.

If you find your marketing materials to be lacking in any of these areas, contact me ASAP. I can help you rectify that situation quickly and cost effectively.

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Jim Murray, Creative Director
Direct Line: 416 463-3475
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Does Your Company Have A Consistent ‘Voice’?

One of the most effective ways to make sure your company’s message is getting through is being able to speak to your prospects in a consistent voice.

From the content on your web site to the copy in your trade ads, sales letters and collateral material to any media or digital advertising you may do, the tone and manner of your communication is something you want to be sure is coming across in a consistent, informative and persuasive way.

A lot of companies underestimate the power of consistency in their communications. In fact, many companies ignore the notion altogether. This is mainly because they lack the basic understanding that the tone and manner of their communications are the main elements that define the character of their brand or their company. And that companies, like people, are judged by the quality of their character.

Left Brain and Right Brain Functions.

19163463 copy 3While the benefit and support for the product or service work on the analytical side of the prospect’s brain, the brand character, or tone and manner, work on the emotional side, helping to paint a picture of the company as an entity they want to do business with…that they would trust…that would also do the best for them.

The art of persuasion is one in which the analytical and emotional sides of the communication work together, so the prospect takes away the facts about the product or service and, equally as importantly, a good feeling about it.

Because a lot of this engagement happens subconsciously in the prospect’s brain, the writer must be very careful in how he chooses to phrase his messages. Inconsistency breeds confusion and the minute the prospect becomes confused by mixed signals they are being sent, you can lose them.

The Power Of A Consistent ‘Voice’ Should Never Be Underestimated.

Consistency and character in communications are always beneficial improvements to a company’s image.

Many communication writers tend to concern themselves mainly with the development of big ideas that will attract attention to the company they are promoting. And this is fine. But attracting the prospect’s attention is no guarantee of a sale. Because if they become attracted, they are going to want more information before making their decision. And how persuasively this information is communicated to them is critical.

As a writer with extensive experience in both big idea thinking and consistent character oriented copy execution, I understand the work I do for my clients needs to balance both elements, in order to effectively attract and convince prospects. Over the years my efforts in this area have helped to produce excellent results for clients across a spectrum of B to B and B to C market sectors.

If any of what you have just read has struck a chord with you, we should talk.

Because if your business is not optimizing every opportunity to effectively connect with prospects, then it’s basically squandering that opportunity. And that, simply, does not have to be the case.

O&U SignatureJim Murray, Creative Director & Writer
416 463-3475  •

Onwords & Upwords Case Histories

The following panels are detailed case histories which I have compiled over the years from projects I have worked on as a writer. art director or both.

They give ample testimony to the fact that strategically sound creative development is a very good marketing investment. There is a mix products and services here as you will see, and not every case study will be of interest to you. Please use the index to reference the projects and market areas in which you are most interested. Feel free to contact me at any time to discuss a branding or communications challenge you may be facing.


Branding & Marketing Free Advice Series Part 6


Though virtual communication groups have been around for a while, it’s not until the last decade or so that they have become generally accepted among all but the largest client organizations.

For the companies that use them, virtual groups have a number of advantages over their bricks and mortar counterparts:

1.     Virtual groups are almost always comprised of senior level personnel, whereas traditional groups tend to have a mix of experienced and not-so-experienced personnel. This translates into easier to manage relationships and higher levels of client satisfaction.

2.     Virtual groups have no ‘offline’ or support people or heavy real estate costs to cover in their pricing.

3.     Virtual groups make personnel available to clients on an as-needed basis, which further contributes to lower costs.

4.     Virtual groups tend to deal with individuals or small, specialized suppliers for services, as opposed to larger supplier services companies, making their outsourced costs lower.

5.     Virtual groups generally work on a project basis, which means they are much more strongly motivated to complete a project quickly and efficiently.

In terms of communications suppliers, there really are two different worlds.

While larger agencies and designcos certainly have their client base among the large structured organizations, virtual groups serve a valuable purpose, because larger communications companies could actually lose money attempting to service many types of smaller clients.

In Canada, with its substantial number of small to medium-sized businesses, the virtual communications group is definitely the right choice for those companies with smaller budgets and a more cost-conscious mindset.

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Jim Murray, Creative Director, Project Manager
416 463-3475  •

Branding & Marketing Free Advice Series Parts 1-5


If you want to do a good job of branding or rebranding your product or service, but you don’t have a ton of money to do it, there are a number of people out there whose experience base qualifies them to wear more than one hat. Working with one or two people who can handle multiple functions will lead to economies of scale that can make the work you need to do much more affordable.

Of course, there are a lot of people out there will tell you they have more than one skill set to offer, but it would always be smart to ask for references that can confirm their talent levels in the various disciplines you need them for.

It may take a little extra time, but the savings, both in terms of money and hassle, will be worth it.


The biggest challenge to the process of branding and marketing development is for clients and suppliers to learn to trust each other. The key to developing trust lies in the mutually understanding that everyone is on the same team and wants to achieve the same results.

Creative people, by and large, are driven by the need to create an environment of trust because when trust isn’t a worry, they don’t second guess themselves and generally come up with their best ideas.

When clients develop the level of trust they need with their suppliers, this does two positive things. 1. It frees them up to concentrate on whatever it is they do best, be it creating or tweaking their product or service or sales. 2. It removes the ‘us vs them’ barriers and allows them to actively participate in the branding process.

Some of the best client relationships I have had over the years involved clients who were actively involved in their branding process. Their input and insight was invaluable, because, after all, who knows more about their business? And we taught each other a great deal in the process. And by the way, the process always had a positive result.


Anyone who networks will tell you that the concise ‘elevator speech’ is a business essential. Unfortunately many people do a crappy job of it. This is mainly due to the fact that they don’t factor in one very important thing, and that is the person they are trying to communicate with.

The whole idea here is to make sure, not just that the person gets what you do…but that they get what you can do for them.

Walking the talk, here’s my elevator speech. “My job is to create communications that make it very clear to your prospects that you would really be worth doing business with.”

Simple, clear and focused on the ultimate purpose of virtually any form of communication.


If you are in the process of planning a new web site or renovating an old one, do yourself a huge favour and hire someone to design and write/rewrite your site.

There are a lot of businesses out there who have their sites designed by amateurs, web programmers or, even worse, do it themselves and the sites show it. It isn’t just for aesthetic reasons, or even enlightened self interest, that I recommend this course of action, as evidenced by the attached article.

At the end of the day you really want your site to help build your business and that’s what good design and content will do for you. It won’t necessarily be cheap, but it will elevate your site to the rank of professional looking with increased search engine friendliness and that’s both good business and good PR.


When it comes to branding your business, your vision of what your business is all about, and where you want it to go are the two most critical elements. If you hire somebody to help you realize this vision, the biggest mistake you can make is assuming they know what you know. They won’t…because they can’t.

Branding and marketing are front end loaded activities. In order to do them in a way that will brand your business effectively and help move forward, the people who are helping you need to know almost as much as you do. If you think this will happen by some sort of mystical alchemy combined with intuition and experience…it won’t.

Take the time to explain your vision up front and the pros you hire will make it happen. Don’t take the time to do that, and you may not always like what you end up with.

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Jim Murray, Creative Director
416 463-3475  •  •