Brand means trust
We buy from brands we trust. And work for brands we trust. So brand matters.
You instinctively know your brand isn't your logo, colour palette or advertising. It's who you are. It's how you behave, your values, your culture, your systems and processes. Whether you're the CEO or head up marketing, HR or operations, you know brand is about everyone and everything.
And you know it's hard to manage all of this consistently and make change that sticks. You could just rewrite communications to make customers happier. But if you've not changed the underlying issues in the teams who contribute to those communications, you'll just end up where you started.
What's the answer? It's language
If your letters don’t match your customer service, your language reveals the problem and shows you what needs fixing.
If you're making marketing promises but your organisation can't quite deliver, check your language. It'll show you where to improve.
Language connects your vision and strategy with your marketing and operations. Used strategically, you'll stop firefighting issues and build a stronger brand experience.
That's language strategy.
So, what's your language revealing?
The trouble with most language projects is they start and end in the marketing department. They’re often led by a creative agency and are biased towards advertising.
And that bias means any change you make doesn’t run deep and the right language isn't embedded everywhere.
Rooms stay filled with corporate jargon. Leaders giving direction don’t change how they talk. People welcoming new starters use the same, tired old phrases. The teams dealing with customers don’t get a chance to create a fabulous experience.
And when you peel back the marketing veneer, you see some ugly truths.
Polished web pages lead to a hold message, where the tone makes you feel like you're a nuisance. Online chats lack empathy and are sometimes downright rude.
Language is used inconsistently. Your actions don't match your words. And both your employer and consumer brands end up feeling confused.
We all use language, it’s one of the most powerful things we can change.
But it’s often overlooked beyond the marketing team.
Language is the glue
You want your culture to be engaging, your brand compelling and communication more human.
But change is hard. Many change programmes fail because they’re difficult to implement and people resist.
That’s why language gives you a fantastic opportunity.
Language reaches the parts other changes can't reach, because...
We express our vision and strategy in language.
We lead and engage people using language.
We manage and bond through language.
Language is your main tool for getting the vision and ideas in your head, into the minds and focus of your organisation.
Brand, culture, communication
When you focus on language, you help everyone connect. Not just as employees with professional facades, but as humans.
They’re more energised and engaged. More willing to work together to overcome barriers.
They feel part of something bigger than themselves. More into your mission.
They're more confident responding to customers’ changing needs.
You get your customer service singing in tune with your marketing.
You find it easier to give customers what you promised.
You make your customers happier. And get fewer complaints.
When you change your language, you change how people behave.
Align culture, brand, communication and behaviour
Maybe you're reading this thinking, "This sounds great but we've done tone of voice and it didn't work".
When you think of language as a symptom of what's going on within your business, you realise this is about more than guidelines.
So the letter legalese that's causing complaints can't be tackled with a simple rewrite. It's about taking your business on a journey.
A journey to align your culture, brand, comms and behaviour, so you consistently do the right thing for customers.
What we do
Success comes in four stages, whether you're looking at just one area or the whole business:
1 Review and engage - Understand the impact of your communication to see what needs to change. Get the right stakeholders on board and define KPIs. Recruit champions and understand what you're like at your very best.
2 Develop and test - Define your brand and behaviours. Create a tone of voice that reflects these. And test with your people and customers.
3 Plan and prepare - Work out who you need to reach. Develop communications. And plan training in the new behaviours.
4 Change behaviour - Train your people. Review internal processes. Rewrite anything you want to change. Review results against KPIs.
To find out how it could work for your business, drop us a line.
"Afia have been helping us transform our organisation and the way we communicate - elevating our customer experience and making us more human in the process."
Simon McGuiness, Head of Customer Experience, Aldermore Bank
Learn how your language can transform your brand, culture and communication
When you focus on language, you help everyone connect as humans. You’ll find it easier to give customers what you promised and they’ll be happier.
Download our manifesto to learn how your language reveals your truth, and what you can do about it.
… and you’ll also get our regular thinking on language, culture and brand by email.