Choosing the Words That Define You
Selecting the words that define your business are some of the most important choices you will make. Your marketing vocabulary can often appear to have come about by a combination of accident and design. A result of the internally-driven initiatives that bubble up from time to time; evolving technology that has given rise to more diverse channel requirements, and the unpredictable effects of subtle external pressures. In conjunction, these factors routinely shape your responses and ongoing focus.
The reliance on sector-specific language traditions and conforming to the more immediate demands of Google algorithms act as both guide and prompt – a combination of carrot and stick.
Those who operate outside of the marketing function – with the exception of the obvious and (hopefully) high profile social media keywords that revolve around predominant preoccupations of increasing brand awareness, content marketing and engagement – might be unaware of any process involving word choices.
Sufficient or just convenient?
Whether aligning with existing language conventions, or in the process of a creatively conservative rebranding, there are implicit assumptions – even in a clued-up environment – that these digitally-driven keywords will suffice. It’s quick; it’s easy and – up to a point – necessary. However, with total dependence you will not achieve the differentiation you seek. It’s essential that the nuances – the ones that make you distinctive – are given full rein and this is highly unlikely with a reliance on this singular collection of words. This short term fix is no good in a future that will be built on an agile response and flexibility.
Very few of the prevailing mantras for success exclude consistency as a fundamental requirement. In this case there is a temptation for consistent to be spelt convenient – another word for lax; a chance to put the issue to bed, which then allows you to get on with what may be viewed as the more pressing tasks of generating leads and making sales.
Turn of the key words
It’s too easy to think that once you have defined a handful of words that you do not have to go to the well again; that you can then get on in being who you are. That potential customers will immediately grasp precisely what you are about. You may know who you are, however, is such an incestuous family of words any more than broadly appropriate to the style and content requirements of your website, emails and social presence?
Keywords are not the plug in the dam but should be the precursor of a steady flow of related, alternative and associated words – particularly if you want your infant brand or strategic ambitions to grow organically into a fully-rounded adult that can converse at all levels.
It is time for you to see them as turning the key – words. They need to permeate everything you do – not as some convenient orthodoxy but to promote and convey something approaching a feeling, an association, or an emotion about your company. This inevitably must be closely reflected in all of your positioning and in what you post in all of the places you reside.
Set aside a moment beyond the business of doing business to set a strategic path. Encourage all areas of your organisation to contribute. Use your imagination and ramp up the levels of sophistication to go from the literal where you may feel fully comfortable to expressing yourself conceptually – where you may not.
Challenger brands – particularly in the wider financial sector and in the thriving fintech arena – often simultaneously employ a new clarity of language in their communications and in the process of defining themselves; intent on brandishing it as a weapon of difference. It’s not just the way that they do it but the way they say they do it too.
If your word choices are all derivative and dull, ill-conceived, or purely generic – why would you assume that potential customers will be engaged enough to take the relationship further? The choice – as always – is yours. However, remember – in whatever sector you operate – that these potential customers have even more choices for goods and services to make than you can possibly provide.
Stand out. Avoid being overlooked without making a connection. I’m sure there is a word for that… But it’s not one you should be considering at any stage.
Michael White is the Head of Copy in Mulberry’s London office and has many years of experience writing and editing short- and long-form content for B2B and B2C audiences.