Corporate text is the expression of corporate identity.
Fundamentally we all know it: we all speak our own language. The natural first choice is our national language. Even more so the dialect of our respective region. And – if you listen closely – you can hear it in the timbre of the city or quarter where you live. Then there is the education-dependent register – high level or more down to earth. And finally background and family add idiosyncrasies that even close neighbours no longer share. If you look closely at vocabulary, phrasing, style and expression, you might wonder how we understand anything at all.
But above all this doesn’t simply apply to us as individuals. Depending on the industry or professional field, our own language becomes a minefield that can easily catch us out with just one – false – sentence. Namely, by expressing our accumulated incompetency. We may speak only once with lawyers about the intricacies of jurisdiction, with philosophers about transcendentalism or with tradesmen or installers about their respective manufacturing practices. In the meantime, there’s an instructional video on YouTube for everyone, but this should be viewed before you have these discussions.
It’s true: everyone speaks their own language. And everyone moulds their specific identity through language. People, professional groups – and companies, of course. Not everyone is aware of this. The majority naturally have a more or less detailed corporate design. Many have formulated a guiding principle, with vision, mission and positioning. They have, therefore, implicitly shaped something of a corporate language – and yet this corporate language, unlike typography, corporate colours and imagery, is undefined. It is often the blind spot in corporate communication.
Corporate language? Corporate text? How does the company speak and write? The brand? For many companies, these questions remain unanswered – probably because of the attitude behind it: everyone can come up with a straight sentence. To paraphrase Goethe, intelligence and good sense will express themselves with little art and strain. This statement, though, comes from the reworking of “Faust”, which the old master fine-tuned over the years.
In short: this is not the case. Every company is shaped by its industry, by its products. Whether these are now simply me-too mass-produced products or ingenious, high-quality premium products. While simpler language suffices for the first, the second requires a more finely modulated tone. Technical products should be conveyed in precise language, unlike fashion, for instance, which cultivates its own casual, informal or elegant style.
The questions that every company should ask itself are: Which words always work? For whom? And where? What style is appropriate? A high, medium or colloquial register? Which text strategies apply? And in which media are they used?
One who has consistently answered these questions is a Scandinavian furniture store. Through universally addressing informally a target group that would be uncomfortable with formal address, the playfulness, with typically Swedish pungency, on radio and film spots is not only catchy, but also unique in its stringency. The result is not only self-evident; it is quite clearly geared towards the target group and is, above all, distinctive.
Now, anyone keen to develop an unmistakable tonality for their company certainly needn’t learn ‘Scandinavian’. First and foremost, a process of awareness is helpful. This process can be conducted through professionally-moderated corporate text workshops that, working from brand promises, positioning, principles and values, develop the language, style and tonality of the company.
Such workshops can be combined with on-going coaching, which gives company employees the tools they need to write corporate texts independently. Normally this is worth considering for all those charged with corporate communication in marketing, sales and human resources.
Is it really necessary? Is it worth it? Well: only if you think it is important to create a clear outline through the language that you speak and to convey in the expressiveness a quality that corresponds to that of your product. Then it can be a very sound investment indeed.
Looking for the right words? Book a workshop. Right now. Right here.
More information available from:
Creative Consulting / Group Head Text
christoph.siwek (at) schindlerparent.de