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  • Posted by: Amy Edel-Vaughn on Friday, May 17 2013 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

    Mary Hirsch wrote, “Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.” With pins shaped like swords, Interbrand London cut out jargon, celebrated rapier wit and proved excellent at swordplay.

    The Verbal Identity team creates workshops for clients with expertise and passion, but found it had been some time since they’d directed that love of language to building a workshop for themselves. As the Swordplay event took shape, in an anti-silo, breaking down barriers of specialty move, the team opened the invitation to participate to the whole of Interbrand London.

    Bringing in favorite pieces of writing from song lyrics to poems and comics to famous quotes, participants shared what resonated with them and the words that get stuck in their heads. Playing with words in words, such as lust in lackluster or rue in accrue, rewriting film dialogue and thinking about how very little changes can have big impact on meaning, the Swordplayers enjoyed the fun of language and felt the power of each word choice we make.

    Swordplayers at work

    Laura Tarbox, Strategy Consultant, said, “Like a ‘Magic Eye’ of language, the Swordplay workshop gave me a new perspective on life, ideas and language, revealing and bringing into focus the hidden heart of words like a true love that’s been right under your nose all along.” Lesley Stuart-Jones, Client Manager adds, “Insightful and inspiring – fun too!! We should do more sessions like this!”

    Looking at paragraphs of business jargon, Sworplayers discussed how challenging jargon makes what could be simple copy to understand and its stark lack of joyous words. Taking sword pens in hand, it was time to stake out the jargon. Rewriting the copy it was clear that a few words could easily replace a paragraph of jargon, serving as a powerful reminder of the traps all writers should avoid.

    Cat Totty, Senior Consultant Writer, shared that the conversations sparked interesting questions on a business level. To the question “If clients speak formally, do we need to mirror?” Totty stresses authenticity and advises, “Don’t be a chameleon. Be your professional self.”

    Fun with words

    Plans are in the works for more innovative Swordplay workshops at Interbrand London, and to explore different practice areas. Sandy Jones, Client Management Intern commented, “I found it was a really creative concept, and very well planned from top to bottom. It was obviously really well prepared, especially when we were presented with words we chose at the end of the session, that was a really good touch.”

    “I found it especially beneficial to analyse the ‘jargon’ ridden text examples, and identify what is truly necessary when speaking with clients or other members of staff,” Jones says. “We tend to use 20 words when 10 will do, and changing that attitude would go a long way to making work-related communication more relevant. I think everyone was really open to the concept of the exercise because it was really enjoyable but perhaps most importantly inspiring.”

    Joanna Jenkins, Senior Client Director, agrees, “Really got the creative verbal juices flowing. And forces the mind to look at words differently to get the most from them. Great hosts too!” Michael Quirke, Consultant Writer, concludes, “Beautifully simple and, later, even life-affirming – really enjoyed it.”

    For the full Swordplay workshop photo album, please visit us on Facebook.

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  • Posted by: Fred Burt on Friday, August 5 2011 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

    Reading Business Life, BA’s in-flight business magazine, on my regular flight to Frankfurt today, I came across an interesting article.

    According to the piece, a Chicago restaurant improved reservation attendance by implementing a really simple trick. Rather than stating to the customer that they should call if they needed to cancel or change, they asked them ‘would you be willing to call us if you need to change or cancel your booking?’

    The difference is subtle but, apparently, highly effective. The customers said ‘yes’ (who wouldn’t) when asked, and the no shows dropped significantly. The National Health Service in the UK is seeing similar results around improved appointment no shows. Why? It seems that because the customer (or patient) was involved in a conversation – they were asked and verbally confirmed - they were much more likely to act. 

    I think this has interesting implications for brand owners, who are constantly looking for techniques to improve loyalty and commitment. Ask your customers if they intend to do what you believe they want to do. And then try and elicit a response. This simple process of getting the audience to listen, think and then confirm seems to lead to a greater level of commitment.

    Here are some statements that I suspect could be phrased more often as questions:

    +    In financial services: Would you be happy to come in one weekend and see one of our financial advisors? (not ‘please come in to see us at your earliest convenience)
    +    In supermarkets: Next time you shop here, would you consider bringing in used plastic bags for recycling? (Not ‘please bring your bags in to be recycled’)
    +    In religion: Can we expect to see you in church again this month? (not ‘I hope we’ll see you again next month)
    +    In automotive: Would you be happy to post a review of your new car on a review site? (not ‘please post your review here if you’re happy’)
    +    In politics.  Can I count on your vote in next month’s election? (Not ‘please vote for me’)

    I am sure there are examples for every industry (and feel free to post some).

    If you’re reasonably sure these are actions your consumer already intends to take, then by asking a question (rather than issuing an instruction) you could go a long way to narrowing the gap between intended and actual behavior.

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