Behavioural science · Copywriting · Language

Want your writing to change the world?

Research shows we’re more likely to contribute towards solving major global problems if we’re presented with positive visions of the future, rather than negative ones of the present.

This article covers how affirmation can be more powerful than guilt. Something to think about when communicating with people and attempting to change behaviours…

Check out this blog here on Psyche.

Advertising · Behavioural science · Copywriting · Storytelling · Tone of voice

I enjoyed this advert by Fractal

Just a quick post.

This Fractal advert on the back page of this week’s The Economist caught my attention. It has a lot going for it:

  • A catchy heading
  • An engaging story
  • An inclusive tone of voice
  • Evidence of results and benefits for the reader
  • An intriguing ending
  • It talks to its target audience using “you”.

It’s always nice to see a reminder of what good looks like in advertising. If you’re advertising something soon, is there anything you can learn from it?

Behavioural science · Branding · Language

“Oil” and “gas” become dirty words

The London Stock Exchange now talks about the oil and gas industry as “non-renewables”. And in a recent change to its style guide, The Guardian now refers to climate change as “climate crisis”.

People are beginning to make small yet powerful changes in language to achieve social change. How long will it be before we refer to eating meat as the “non-veg” option?

Interesting article here in the Financial Times (paywall).

Advertising · Behavioural science · Branding · Copywriting · Language · Naming

BMW or… Bayerische Motoren Werke?

The thing that’s most interesting about BMW’s latest ad is what lies beneath its logo… I’ve never seen BMW spell out its name like this before.

Of course, it makes sense to sound more German (so long as the company doesn’t create a rip-off of Audi’s “vorsprung durch technik” tagline). But why would the company spell out its name on this occasion and not others?

A luxury line of cars, perhaps?

I think BMW may be doing this to draw attention to a new luxury line of products. Similarly, think about the relationship between Calvin Klein and CK, Paul Smith and PS. When do these brands choose to use each one?

It’s not for every brand

It’s not for every brand, and some, such as Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (IKEA) don’t need to do this.

IKEA has worked hard in using its visual brand and language to keep its rich associations with Sweden, where it was founded.

But for BMW, if its objective is to rekindle an awareness of its German heritage to sell a high-end product.

Who knows, it may just werke!

Behavioural science · Jargon · Tone of voice

How CrossFit reminded me about language

Last night I went to CrossFit for the first time. Free trial.

Before you ask, I’m fine. I’m not writing this from a hospital bed or anything. But whilst I was there it made me think about language and the way we use words at work.

When I arrived at this big warehouse – sun shining, lots of sweaty people – I talked to the person on reception and they said I could put my jumper and coat in the “Mezz”, and then hang there until the workout.

We then headed to the “Box”, before going over the “WOD”. We then smashed the “Wall Balls” and the “SQs” with “AMRAP” within eight minutes.

Are you still with me after all that gobbledygook?

See, the thing it reminded me of is that people love jargon.

As Harvard Professor and popular author Stephen Pinker says: “Jargon is a tribal thing. Jargon is a sociolect we’ve adopted amongst our colleagues. It’s a sense of being in a team.

“But, people who aren’t in the team feel left out.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The people at CrossFit Nottingham were great at explaining all the lingo and the jargon.

Like most teams I’ve worked with at work, they were passionate about what they do. There was a sense of community and camaraderie there.

And they took the time to explain the jargon, to make me feel welcome.

What’s your equivalent to a WOD?

So, when you’re next communicating with the people in your team, think about your equivalents to a WOD (Workout of the day) or a SQ (Squat).

You might be using language like “synergies”. You might be “underpinning” a few things. (I won’t go on.) But think about how it feels to others. How does it feel to your readers and listeners? Are you explaining it? Do people understand you?

As humans, we’re socially conditioned to love jargon. To love feeling like we’re part of a team. But be aware of when and where you use it. And especially who you’re talking to.