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Successful businesses use universal language

If marketing copy is easy to read, for everyone, then surely the messages are getting across. And that’s the point, right? So it’s baffling to see businesses and organisations, large and small, across all sectors, encrypting their communications with words like ‘holistic’, ‘deliverables’, ‘driving’, ‘actioning’, and ‘engagement’. We’ve long known there’s no conceivable justification for... Read more

I do not think that means what you think it means

There’s a great running joke in 1987’s cult romantic comedy ‘The Princess Bride’. The good guy relentlessly pursues the bad guys, and every time they fail to shake him off the ringleader says it’s “inconceivable”. Eventually one of his sidekicks says, “You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think... Read more

Strapline delivery solutions

There are so many ropey corporate straplines, missions and visions around, that I decided to establish some criteria for judging the worst ones. I feel that to be the worst of the worst, a strapline must pass three basic tests: It doesn’t say what the organisation does. When translated into normal English, it is either... Read more

It’s not about you

We’ve all been stuck in conversations that are one-way traffic. You listen and nod as the other person talks about themselves, unable to get a word in, until eventually you realise there’s nothing in it for you, and your mind wanders off. Unfortunately, many businesses have the same problem. Read more

Abstract words leave little impression

George Orwell wrote: “Most educated people don’t realise how little impression abstract words make on the average man.” We agree. So it’s always been a mystery to us why businesses seem to want to pepper their communications with them. Read more

Yes. But what do you do?

Without fail, week after week, we will receive client copy to work with that goes on at length about quality, innovation, value, customer focus and all the other abstract clichés of modern corporate speak. It may go on for paragraphs at a time, sometimes even pages, so after a while you just scream out “Yes,... Read more

When plain English is a matter of life and death

Plain English Copywriting What good is exclusive jargon or management mumbo-jumbo in emergency situations? Not a lot, when it affects the clarity and efficiency of communication between individuals and groups trying to protect property and people. But it does provide an irrefutable case for removing silly and frustrating ambiguity from language. And not just in... Read more