“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I’ve written a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

I read 2 great blog posts recently that make great points about the need for simplicity in designing a brand (relevant both to professional development (personal brand) and strategically growing a business).

Both make great points about how essential it is to intentionally shape and refine your brand (or your company’s).  There are many great thoughts in this vein.  Some focus on the choice between the specialist vs. the generalist (Seth Godin has an opinion on this); this HBR blog post offers a contrasting view; and many companies like Valve talk about the value of a T-shaped employee (someone who is both a generalist and has a one or more areas of expertise, see right).

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Steve Jobs

All these nuanced discussions are great points, but something that I find can cut through all the nuances and focus on the core of the discussion is to force yourself to very, very briefly describe what you or your company does.  Can you write 1 sentence “elevator pitch” that capture who you are or who your company is?  It’s easy to hide behind pages of marketing-buzzwords and not really say anything.  That “elevator pitch” can talk about being a generalist or a specialist, but does it actually say something tangible?  Or does it hide behind the all-too-common “I’m a smart, competent person that can do anything (which really communicates you have no idea what you do that is unique)?

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