Branding is about creating the future. You begin with the end in mind by creating an ideal state, which is then a blueprint for what you need to do to get there. And the tool we use to create that future is language. Yes, words!
How many times have you seen a list of company values include words such as ‘innovative’; ‘passionate’; ‘integrity’; ‘quality’; ‘excellence’? Not that these words are necessarily wrong. But they are so commonplace that they have lost their meaning, their power, their force. They have become corporate clichés that tick the boxes. An impoverished vocabulary that leads to feeble outcomes.
How about your everyday vocabulary? Are the words you use closing your options and choices, or are they opening doors and creating amazing possibilities for your self and your life?
There are two ways of looking at the words you use. There’s the number [quantity] or words you use, and then there’s the kind [quality] of words you use.
Linguists report that an average person’s working vocabulary consists of between 2,000 to 10,000 words. Conservatively estimating English to contain 500,000 words, that means we regularly use between 1-2% of the language that’s available to us.
Okay, so we all have a somewhat limited vocabulary. And if you consider that the Bible uses 7,200 different words, John Milton’s writing includes 17,000 words, and Shakespeare used around 24,000 words, I guess adding a few thousand more new words to your vocabulary isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference. It might make you seem like a clever dick, and that will just annoy the shit out of everyone else.
My point is that having a rich vocabulary doesn’t require that you use a whole lot of new, fancy words that nobody knows the meaning of. It’s the kind of words you choose to use that matter. I’m talking here about words that everyone knows and understands, and yet are rarely used because [like company values] your vocabulary has become a thing of habit, and you don’t even think about choosing and using other words.
Begin first by changing your habitual vocabulary for words that convey a more distinct, rich emotional intensity. So, for example, instead of saying, “Be innovative”, try saying, “Think different”. Change “be responsible” to “own it”. Change “teamwork” to “WE before ME”. Change “love what you do” to “love Monday”. Change “passion” to “make it matter”. Change “integrity” to “walk your talk”.
And then start using more positive words, and eliminating the negative ones. For example, if you develop a habit of saying “no” to every thing or every idea that comes your way, you will soon become a ‘no-person’. Try instead being more positive by saying something like, “Hey, that’s an interesting idea”; “Why not”; “I love your thinking”.
Language is the means by which we communicate our intentions and make things happen. Using rich, positive, emotionally charged words will transform your state of being, and the world around you.
Give it a go!
(Check out the language used in this Pedigree Brand Manifesto)