On Message Reminds Us To Stick To The Story

The more experience I get in marketing and advertising, the more impressed I am with the sheer skill and chutzpah of political message-makers. They work on their cause or their candidate with relentless focus, and even if it’s for a short campaign season, they craft messages that stick probably better than 99% of the consumer products out there. We get a little glimpse into this thinking with Zach Friend’s On Message: How a Compelling Narrative Will Make Your Organization Succeed.


With some very simple “message boxes,” Friend shows how to take an issue or a brand and craft the right narrative — one that ultimately results in a more relatable, human approach that’s more meaningful to the audience.

What makes On Message unique among many books I’ve read lately is that Friend doesn’t assume a “consumer is in control” approach. He very much reminds readers to know their audience, but also shows how effective messages, narratives, and stories can be when they’re created centrally and reinforced consistently. Plus, I have to say, this is the first marketing book I’ve seen that uses Hair Club for Men among its many relevant examples. (Don’t worry, Starbucks and Apple are in there too.)

On Message keeps it basic, probably due to Friend’s background as a staffer on many political campaigns where the messaging needs to have a broad-based appeal. And despite the appearance of new buzzwords and methodologies, many consumer brands still need their messaging to be big and simple, so Friend’s book serves as a good reminder.

Special thanks to The PR Freelancer who provided me with a review copy.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.