Skip to main content

The Fallacy Of Channeling George Orwell

"So I said, 'Think of me as a professional moron,'" I told my friend.
"That's how you want to be remembered by them?" she said. "Oh, goodness."
"Well that's what I said."
"What do you mean, 'That's what I said?'  Now moron is your brand."
For a time I thought it somehow daring to insult myself. 
But then I witnessed people far, far more senior than myself doing exactly the same thing.  
  • "Tell it to me like I'm stupid."
  • "Pretend I'm simple."
  • "Imagine that you're talking to your mother."
 By reducing a senior communicator to a less intimidating level, statements like this can help a subject matter expert improve their communication.
Often, however, a dialogue about better words doesn't help anything at all.
Because in some organizations, what seems like "poor performance" - including bad communication - is exactly what's required.
Words that confuse, mislead, obfuscate, and shade the truth - to the point of outright denial of reality - can be used, are often used, as arrows in the quiver.
  • Propaganda.
  • Psyops.
  • Gaslighting.
 The list of Orwellian terms and techniques goes on and on and on.
Obviously, using tricky words is ethically and sometimes legally wrong. For example -- all jokes and criticism aside -- federal government communication is required to be clear and understandable, and propaganda is not allowed.
But even if one were to put morals aside, it's shortsighted to use words that mislead. In doing this, you sow the seeds of mistrust down the road. You confuse people within your own organization. And you destroy any long-term equity that would result from a cohesive, authentic brand.
Maybe it's not cool to suggest being simple. But I think it's the way to go.
______________________
Photo by Srikrishna K via Flickr (Creative Commons). All opinions are my own and not those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …

Should I Add My Beer-Focused Instagram Account To My LinkedIn profile?

This is my response to a question originally posed on Quora.

The answer, like lawyers tend to say, is: “It depends.”

Not knowing what you do for a living, let’s assume that your LinkedIn profile is typical, meaning that it reflects the image of a corporate professional.

Would your boss, or a prospective employer, think badly of you for promoting your passion for beer?

Traditional product branding says that you should focus on your unique selling proposition fairly single-mindedly. Your goal is to create a space in the customer’s mind dedicated to your brand so that when they want to purchase something like it, they shortcut all alternatives and go straight to you.

So from a product branding point of view, putting a personal beer account on your professional profile is distracting. It tells an employer that you’re not totally focused on the encyclopedic and ever-evolving knowledge, skills and abilities required to do your valuable type of job.

However, people are not products, and appl…