Does your small business have a corporate language? No? You should! Why? Read on. Wait, what was that? You do have a corporate language? Congrats! You can totally skip this article and spend your precious time somewhere else. Except, of course, if you want to make sure your CL concept is actually working. Then you should make the effort and read on.
Why Your Small Business Needs A Corporate Language
If your like the majority of small business owners, you’re not entirely sure what corporate language is – and even less why you’d need it. As long as people understand each other, things are fine, right? You could not be more wrong. The power of words is immeasurable. The words you use actually shape the way you think – and how your business is perceived. From job ads to invoices, from internal memos to press releases: your business will benefit in every aspect from an effective corporate language.
CL Concepts: From Ancient Rhetorics To Modern Marketing
The way you speak or write matters. We intuitively adapt our style of language: we talk differently to a preschooler than to a teenager or a professional partner. We all have an unconscious set of rules at work when it comes to wording and language. What the ancient Romans called Rhetoric is known today as an important part of marketing and PR: using language to persuade people to take a desired kind of action. The art of persuasion is probably as old as the word itself – and it as still as effective today as it was 3’000 years ago. Even though some of the rules have changed.
Create Your Corporate Language in 3 Steps
Finding your Corporate Language is part of your Corporate Identity – and this is something even the smallest of small businesses needs. You’ll rise to your full potential only if you know who you are; the same goes for your business.
Who do you want to be, how do you want to be perceived? What is the tone of voice you want use with your customers? Friendly and personal, or professional and respectable? Who are your clients, and what do they need from you? These are the questions you need to answer – and once you’ve done that, you can proceed to create your corporate language in 3 steps.
1. Create a Style Guide
- Do you use abbreviations, if so, which ones?
- Do you write % or percent, $ or USD, etc.?
- What date and time format do you use?
- Is Mr. Jones, Mr. Max Jones, Max Jones or simply Max?
It’s the small things that matter – but what matters most of all consistency. Decide on your style, and then keep to it.
Pro Tip: The passive voice should almost always be avoided. Why? Simple: „Don’t use the passive voice“ is much easier to read – and understand.
2. Define your Terminology
- Define specific words common to your trade (e.g. is it portefeuille or portfolio)?
- Are you a company, a business, or an enterprise?
- Do you have clients or customers, or even partners?
- Do you send out invoices or bills, offers or price quotes?
You say tomato, I say tomato… whatever you choose: get clear about the words you want to use – and those to avoid.
Pro Tip: Get rid of technical jargon whenever possible. Impressing people is good, being understood is better.
3. Create Wording Guidelines
- Do you use clear and short vs. long, impressively complicated sentences?
- Should you please the locals by using their own slang?
- Do you need to be understood from New York to London, or even Berlin?
- Is your tone of voice young and hip, or trustworthy and of the olde kind?
Wording matters – and the way you combine those words really makes a difference. A huge one.
Pro Tip: Keep it simple and short, so any non-native speakers know what you’re saying. Especially if you’re running an online business, chances are that you have an international clientele.
Creating a corporate language is the easy part. The hard part is consistently using it. But you know what? It’ll be worth it. Use the power of words, and your business will arise to its full potential.