Those of us of a certain, ahem, age will likely remember the episode of the old television series, the Twilight Zone, in which a woman lies in a hospital bed, her head swathed entirely in bandages, awaiting the results of her 11th surgery to repair unidentified deformities that have reduced her face to a “pitiful, twisted lump of flesh.”
The tension builds as the patient expresses her anxiety to the doctors and nurses whose faces are also obscured by deep shadows. When the bandages are finally cut away, the visage of a beautiful blonde woman–the actor Donna Douglas, who would go on to play Elly May Clampett in the television sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies– is revealed The doctors and nurses, however, gasp, audibly, and shield their eyes in horror. Then the camera finally cuts to the faces of the medical staff and reveals that they are all horribly disfigured.
“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” is, of course, a heavy-handed exploration of the superficiality of physical beauty, but it could also be viewed as an admonition for brand marketers: Know Your Audience.
Dry-officious language that is the stock-in-trade of one group might seem garish to another. Alternately, a light-hearted approach to marketing content might undermine your authority to a more sober audience.
A good way to get it right is to define your audience, the beholder, going in, to avoid that shocking moment, when they shriek in horror.