We frequently encourage clients to make their language accessible, get out of their own heads, talk to people in/on/around products and services using words their customers can actually understand, and to keep in mind that just because a room full of product managers, brand gurus, software engineers and consultants know what certain words mean, doesn’t mean that their intended market will. At best the wrong language can confuse, at worst it can make people feel intimidated or condescended to.
BMW does a pretty good job here of both using the geeky jargon and then telling folks what it does for them.
There is an irony to this, of course, as we work within a tribe of business consultants known for using obtuse and sometimes even made-up vocabulary to impress our clients. Rob Walker of the New York Times Magazine treated us to a glimpse of what this language feels like outside the tribe in his recent Consumed piece on Chiquita
Ciafardini says Chiquita is particularly interested in communicating to the under-25 crowd that the company offers the ‘convenient healthy snacking platforms that people are looking for these days.’ (I believe that means bananas.)
Our friends at Mule Design have even developed a business-consultant-jargon translation engine to treat the problem: unsuckit.com.
This irony humbly set aside, check out the graffiti beset upon this advertisement from Blackberry, which refers to people’s “Homies, Mates, Buds and Bros.” This was snapped in San Francisco’s Mission District, where people certainly do refer to each other in some of these terms unironically.
It demonstrates that the message, colloquial as it is, is not quite connecting. Instead, it resulted in an angry action using terms both colloquial and authentic: these people don’t give a fuck about you. A dose of process consultation (which unsuckifies as “free advice”) to the ad agency that surely tested this ad with focus groups of homies, mates, buds and bros. Next time, consider asking, “Does the wording of this advertisement make you feel like we give a fuck about you? If not, why not?”
Steve’s thoughts on this whole authenticity thing in a column for interactions magazine.
Another failed communication attempt – a bunch of people no doubt spent a lot of time coming up with a low tire warning symbol that no one can figure out.