Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. I’m here to tell you that’s not entirely true. Words can have a huge impact on your brand – both negative and positive! Think before you speak! If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Use your words … Do you recall your parents saying these things to you? In reality, they were trying to get you to realize the importance of your words at an early age.
There are so many things to take into account when you communicate whether that be written or verbal form. Consider the words you choose as your script. What do people hear, what emotions did you want those words to invoke and how can you change the message based on a slight shift. People have such a short attention span; therefore, we need to be clear, clever, and concise when choosing the words used when we communicate.
Consider the words you choose based on the current environment and culture. What does that mean? For example, does your company say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Neither one is right nor wrong in general, but it might be right or wrong for your brand based on your community, employee culture, and so on.
Consider what large you are using when contemplating the words to use. Take a billboard for example … eight words or less is the standard. How does that affect the words you choose? It is more important than ever to be concise in what you want to say if you are that limited. Another example is writing an emotion grabbing radio ad versus writing website content that needs to be SEO and keyword-rich. The language should be different in each instance.
Consider nonverbals when communicating. How does that relate to words … it’s not always what you say, but how you say it that gives words their true meaning. With radio ads using a female versus male voice can appeal to different audiences. Or making everything bold on a brochure takes away meaning from your most important message. A great way to describe this is the lyrics in a song, they are powerful but when you add crescendos, staccato, and so on to a song that’s what makes it music!
Consider your brand voice and personality when adopting your language. Is your brand playful or professional? Modern or traditional? There are sets of words that can portray the things that your brand stands for. A perfect illustration of this is on The Bachelor … if one of the contestants says the word process they re-film the segment and have them use the word journey instead. The process speaks to the more corporate world – think accounting whereas journey speaks to more of an experience. How about swear words? To one brand it might feel right to skirt on the edge using words some might consider taboo, while other brands stay 20 feet from that line.
Consider the goals of the piece. Goals? What does that have to do with words? Ask yourself if your goal is to gain leads, create brand awareness, gather testimonials/reviews, and so on. For example, if you are using your handout as a sales piece, you might want to use more assertive language with a direct call to action whereas a brochure might have more details explaining your product to create brand awareness.
In the end, it is always in your best interest to listen to your parents, and choose your words wisely!