Mind Your (Corporate) Language

Summary. In business, language matters. Communicate with your target audience effectively using the right choice of words, tone and style.

In business, your corporate message informs your target audience of your organisation’s vision, mission and values. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that it is communicated in a clear and concise manner. But more importantly, your message should capture the attention of your target audience, and encourage conversion of potential leads into customers. This is why having a corporate language is so important. It shapes the content and delivery of your message, and determines the effectiveness of your message. Keeping this in mind, how can a business build and develop a corporate language that succinctly conveys its corporate values and identity? 

This is where the term business linguistics comes in. In the context of the corporate world, business linguistics refers to the study of the language used by an organisation to communicate not only internally, but also externally with clients and customers. Externally,  corporate language directly affects the overall tone and clarity of the company’s message. Therefore, it should be carefully designed, with consideration of the linguistic components that it is composed of. Here are a few linguistic aspects to take note of when you are creating a corporate language for your business:

1. Keep It Short and Simple

When communicating your message to your audience, be as straightforward as possible. Excessive use of long, fanciful phrases can quickly lose the attention of readers and compromise the effectiveness of your message. Instead, break up long run-on sentences into shorter ones, using words that get straight to the point of your message. It would also help to link sentences and paragraphs with connector words like ‘additionally’ and ‘consequently’ to present your message in a clear and concise manner.

2. Style Your Writing for Your Audience

Socium Thoughts - Mind Your (Corporate Language)
Source: Photo via Ben Kolde on Unpslash

Beyond the choice of words used in a text, writing style is another important consideration.

There are four main styles of writing: Narrative, Expository, Descriptive and Persuasive. While many businesses conventionally adopt a hard-and-fast persuasive approach to sell their products and services, it might be beneficial to explore other styles of writing too. 

For example, expository writing explains and substantiates ideas with factual information. This type of writing is especially useful for B2B businesses looking to attract potential business partners who might not have pre-existing background knowledge on the services they provide. By educating the audience on topics related to their work, businesses can open up more opportunities to expand their clientele base.

While less conventionally used in the corporate world, narrative and descriptive writing are two other styles of writing that can be effective in business. The former style of writing follows a storyline with a clear plot, fully immersing the reader in the story. The latter style of writing paints a vivid picture in the mind of the reader by using descriptive words that appeal to the senses. Both styles of writing evoke strong emotions in the reader, which can be a powerful tool for B2C businesses to connect with their customers on a deeper level.

Socium Thoughts - Mind Your (Corporate Language) - Style
Source: Photo via Marcus Ganahl on Unsplash

3. Watch Your Tone

Tone is important too. More than just a distinction between casual and formal, tone is a reflection of a business’ attitude towards its clients. Using the right tone in your corporate language can show your audience how much you value them and their needs, which will in turn translate into the amount of trust they place in your business.

Target Audience Segmentation

Socium Thoughts - Mind Your (Corporate Language) - Audience
Source: Photo via Marcus Ganahl on Unsplash

On top of the linguistic technicalities, it is equally crucial to know who your audience is. Is your target audience part of the younger generation? Or are you trying to appeal to an older demographic? Factors like age matter as they determine the language — or ‘lingo’, as the younger audience might say — that businesses use to communicate with their audience. 

Gen-Z’s would likely take to ‘hip’ and ‘trendy’ slang and abbreviations more than the older audience would. Besides age, other factors influence word choice as well, such as the depth of understanding that the audience has on the subject. For example, a B2C business would likely avoid complex industry terminology that could confuse customers. In contrast, a B2B business might favour the use of business jargon to reinforce its credibility with business partners. 

Socium Thoughts - Mind Your (Corporate Language) - Target Audience Segmentation

Additionally, the style of writing could also vary according to the audience that the message is targeting. On the one hand, a company advertising new cutting-edge technology to other companies would likely adopt a more expository approach in introducing the functionalities of their latest product. On the other hand, a coffee brand could employ descriptive writing to market their coffee beans by appealing to their target audience’s sense of taste.

As for tonality, a more informal, light-hearted tone of writing could help B2C businesses stay relatable to customers, while it would potentially benefit B2B businesses to use a formal, no-nonsense tone when pitching to potential clients. For these reasons, performing a proper segmentation of the target audience is an imperative step in determining the kind of corporate language to use for a business.

Building a strong corporate identity can be challenging, especially for smaller businesses that are just starting out. Even so, businesses can start by building a unique corporate language with linguistic components tailored to their target audience. Establishing a clear line of communication with clients and customers is the first step for organisations to take the lead in growing their business.


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