Customers don’t care for your corporate jargon

 Mat Skitt photo
Mat Skitt Lead Designer
3min read

Word soup. That's the jargon used to communicate the story and values of a business. It's what we tell our clients to actively pay attention to and what to avoid when working together to develop new disruptive propositions to take to market.

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More commonly referred to as a 'word salad', it's a collection of seemingly random words or phrases that make it difficult for the reader to discern any meaning.

For example: ‘we exist at the intersection of currency exchange between interested parties to support the sustainable growth of professional services’. Saying: ‘we make it easier for businesses to trade so they can grow stronger’ is more straight to the point.

Businesses of all sizes are difficult to describe depending on who the audience is and what you want them to remember. Too often a business falls into the trap of using complex or disconnected language that is difficult to interpret and can feel misguided in what it’s trying to achieve.

Too often a business falls into the trap of using complex or disconnected language

In the brilliant but too close to home TV show ‘Silicon Valley’, there is a beautiful joke in which founders present start-up ideas that would always ‘make the world a better place’ at a ‘TechCrunch Disrupt’-style event. Even if that was through ‘Paxos Algorithms for Consensus Protocols’. Businesses should work hard to understand their reason for being and the best way to articulate that. Doing so will make them more authentic and create more significant connections with their customers, allowing them to become your brands’ best advocates.

The language used to position your business can deliver massive value in meaningful ways and simultaneously avoid the dreaded word soup. There are many frameworks available but essentially there are three parts to drive articulation.

The 'what'

Here is where you tie together a definition of your service with the voice of the customer to clearly articulate the benefit. A solid value proposition reflects the product/service you are building in the 'shorter term' and should be easy to understand, memorable and geared towards an industry audience.

The 'why'

The mission you have set for your business in the longer term that's 'pinned to the wall'. Think of it as a north star. At 11:FS, we exist to change the fabric of financial services. This brand purpose is what ultimately makes your business authentic. Having a clear purpose also helps attract and retain top talent. Embedding that purpose into business strategy shows your employees that your goals go beyond merely growth and profit.

Embedding that purpose into business strategy shows your employees that your goals go beyond merely growth and profit.

The 'how'

Traditionally brand values such as ‘simple, friendly, informative’ are used to describe how a business operates. It's time to reinvent such values as 'experience principles'. These should be short, concise and most importantly, actionable. They are to be used to guide every decision you make in building your proposition, beyond your digital product, as you work to fulfill your purpose. For example: 'our customers should never feel at fault' can mean you provide guided walkthroughs in your product to reduce errors. Or that you don't assign blame to the user if they occur. Knowing when and how firmly to apply these principles can dramatically elevate the customers' overall experience.

My unfiltered opinion

As digital products and services have become more intelligent for increasingly savvy customers, getting lost in the 'word soup' of jargon used to describe businesses has become easier. The language used is vital to a business's success. A well-defined purpose builds a stronger team. A defined set of experience principles guides decisions every day. Too often, they become unnecessarily complicated or unrelatable.

It's time to refocus. Use language that is unique and feels true to your business - less word soup and more word gourmet, if you will. Doing so will trigger more creative and meaningful customer-facing language and product offerings that will strengthen your business's growth.