Digital and social media have transformed communications. This is especially true for corporations and brands. Companies can no longer dictate what’s said about their products and services. Today, many more voices matter. Anyone with a social media profile and a WiFi connection can influence what people think about organisations. We’ve moved from unshakeable, unquestioned brand monologue to a more fluid, less controllable dialogue between organisations and those who shape opinion.
In this new world, it’s never been more important for companies to get their stories straight. Expressed in simple, straightforward language. Transparent and free from jargon. And sounding like the words were written and spoken by a person. Because whether a company sells to other businesses (often called B2B) or to consumers (B2C), what matters is that companies speak like people speak. Business strategist Bryan Kramer says the terms B2B and B2C are past their use-by date. What matters is that corporate communication becomes genuinely H2H, or human to human.
This is our approach when we write for our clients here at Insight Agents, a corporate and brand storytelling business based in the South of England. And so to mark National Storytelling Week 2017 – which runs for seven days from tomorrow until next Saturday 4 February – we commissioned the Catalyst team at the University of Sussex Innovation Centre to find us examples of the best and worst of corporate speak.
In the process of reviewing a slice of contemporary corporate speak, we’ve also come up with a set of do’s and don’ts to help business storytellers do their jobs better. We’re not claiming they’re definitive or comprehensive. We offer them as a helpful checklist.
We’re sharing the findings from this research in a series of blogs over the coming days. And at the end of the week, we’ll publish a full report on corporate and brand storytelling titled “Heroes & Villains: The Best & Worst of Corporate Speak”. It’ll be available to download from next Friday 3 February. We’ll kick off the week on Monday with a look at how to keep things simple.
We hope you enjoy this series of blogs and the full report, and that you find them useful. Together, we can help businesses to sound more like the real people who are the living, breathing representatives of the organisation; to start making sense.
Sam Knowles is a master data storyteller and the Founder & MD of the consultancy Insight Agents. His purpose is to help organisations make smarter use of data, talk Human, and sound like people. An established and sought-after trainer, keynote speaker, and podcaster, he is the founder and host of Data Malarkey podcast and chair of I-COM’s Data Storytelling Council. He’s a Fellow of the Market Reserach Society, the RSA, and the Professional Speaking Association.
Sam is the author of the ‘Using Data Better’ trilogy of books, all published by Routledge. These include the 2018 best-seller Narrative by Numbers, 2020’s critically-acclaimed sequel, How To Be Insightful , and 2022’s eagerly-anticipated Asking Smarter Questions. In 2023, Insight Agents launched Using Data Smarter, a comprehensive, online training course based on all three books.
Find out more about Sam’s approach to data storytelling in this 15-minute video.