If you work in IT, you’ll have heard of Sophos. Unlike their close competitors, McAfee and Symantec, they just work with businesses – and their goal is making IT security simple.

The big contradiction

Like any technology company, Sophos were riddled with tech-speak. And yet everybody who knew them saw them as friendly, conscientious and helpful. The way they spoke contradicted the way they behaved. So they realised that if they could communicate in a way that reflected how they designed their products – and how they behaved – they’d enhance their distinctive position in security.

Distilling the essence

First, Sophos needed to define what they stood for, and what they would always do for their customers. They needed to crystallise their brand personality and promise into a simple, straightforward strategy. So that became our first task.

We began by interviewing people in different areas of the company, and in different parts of the world, to find out what made Sophos special. We asked them what was different about Sophos. How they approached their work. Where they saw their position in the IT world. How they dealt with their customers. How they dealt with each other.

From the answers, we created the essence of Sophos. A simple, uncomplicated promise:

We give you the best IT security available. We make it simple for you to use. And we’re here if you ever need help.

And from that, we described their personality so that everyone in the business could easily understand it and bring it to life day after day.

Automatic for their people

Once we’d agreed on this, everything became much clearer. And the new Sophos tone of voice flowed. There was still plenty to do, of course. We flew to Boston to present the brand strategy and verbal identity to the marketing heads. We advised on the new website and a whole range of communications. And we added an international English style guide to the tone of voice guidelines.

Then we worked with Sophos on how best to spread their new brand language through the company. We planned who to reach, how to reach them and in what order. We trained their main writers and equipped their brand enthusiasts with the tools to spread the word further. And they’ve recently asked us back for some refresher training, and to support their new content editorial team.

No more geek speak

What we’ve achieved has surprised a few people. It’s quite something to get techies using simple and compelling language. And helping people to shed the writing habits of a lifetime is one of the most satisfying things we do.