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.

Language · Leadership

How did leaders use language to unite their nations during COVID-19?

Great leadership communication can change hearts and minds. So how did leaders use language to unite their nations during COVID-19?

In virus-free New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern used lots more collective pronouns such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ when compared to the UK’s Boris Johnson. Johnson used the phrase ‘I want to’ four times more frequently than his New Zealand counterpart.

Ardern also balanced this empathetic approach with words like ‘hard’ and ‘strong’. Through choosing her words wisely, she created a sense of togetherness whilst positioning herself as an authority.

Thanks to the linguistics team at University of Sussex for this research. Some fantastic lessons in here:

Copywriting · Language · Voicetech

What would a feminist Alexa look, or rather sound, like?

Many of us now use Siri or Alexa. They help us cook, set alarms, check the weather, tell the time and more.

But have you ever wondered why these domestic helpers adopt female personas? And, on the flip side, why do banking and insurance apps often use male voices?

Here’s a really interesting article in AIGA Eye on Design discussing the role of gender in language, unhealthy stereotyping and writing for bots.

I’ve not been asked to write a script or create a personality for a bot yet! But with many businesses now using them, this is so useful to bear in mind.

AI · Jargon · Language · Tone of voice · Voicetech

Study: Leaders use jargon when business is failing

An oldie but a goodie.

A couple of year’s ago, an AI solution by S&P Market Intelligence began to predict trading markets based on the jargon used by business leaders.

It found leaders speaking in complicated, long-winded and polysyllabic language tended to precede stock declines.

“When it’s good news, people tend to say it directly. When they have bad news, they tend to dance around it,” said David Pople, Head of Quantamental Research at S&P.

What does your language or the language your organisation uses reveal about you? And if this was a couple of years ago, I’d love to know where this tech has got to today.

Here’s the full article in the Financial Times (paywall).

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).

Branding · Copywriting · Language · Storytelling

I feature in this fabulous book on business writing

Very grateful to have a cameo appearance in this Dark Angels book on business writing, “Changing lives with words”.

I feature alongside some true greats from the corporate writing world. People who’ve written creatively for some of the biggest brands and who’ll continue to shape the marketing industry.

I’m only four chapters in, but so far I’ve found it a very inspiring read, full of anecdotes and exercises to try.

It’s a must for anyone involved in writing, branding, marketing or communications. Or even if you’re intrigued about the things us writers get up to.

Here’s a bit more about the book, and how you can buy it.

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!