Language is complicated. There are tens of thousands of words to choose from in the English language to express our thoughts and ideas. Sometimes we are flip in our choices, selecting the first words that come to mind.
If I am part of a team working on a new project and say, “I can complete the budget analysis today,” the word “can” implies my effort is noncommittal. If I say, “I will complete the budget analysis today,” my statement conveys confidence and establishes concrete expectations for my teammates.
The difference is subtle, but subtle enough to change meaning and cause confusion. What we say implies intent, and the words we choose should be deliberate to match the results we will achieve. In the same way, brands must be consistent to say what they mean and mean what they say. To connect with consumers, they must avoid complicated and unclear communications.
Take for example the mission statement of Aflac:
To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.
Now compare Aflac’s to Nike’s mission statement:
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
It’s easy to see the difference between the two. Aflac’s mission statement is complicated by jargon and subjective words and phrases that are meaningless and unclear to its customers: aggressive strategic marketing, quality products and services, competitive prices and insurance value. If you polled 10 friends and asked for their definition of a quality insurance product, you’d likely get 10 different answers.
Nike, on the other hand, presents a simple, relatable idea that is memorable and easily repeatable. It defines action, audience and results. Most importantly, it’s meaningful to its employees and customers and mirrors the culture of the business.
In all communications, whether written or verbal, be direct. Strive for simplicity.