In a Writing Tune-Up for Peak Performance class, a young African-American man (I’ll call him Edward) told us he was having trouble developing his writing “brand.” I wondered what he meant, and guessed (silently) that Edward was trying to figure out how to express himself professionally while incorporating the language of his youth or his heritage. I started thinking about how I would respond to that intriguing question.
But the question was wider than I had imagined, something everyone should consider. Edward explained that he had a hard time using expressions such as “low-hanging fruit,” “bottom-line focus,” and “at the end of the day,” expressions company leaders used all the time. He wasn’t comfortable using them–they just didn’t fit. But he didn’t know what his brand should be.
I admire Edward for questioning the language other people use without question. People use that language because it seems clear and vivid. But it isn’t clear or vivid to many people in plenty of situations.
Is “low-hanging fruit” an easy, sure success? Then say so.
What is “bottom-line focus” really? What does it mean to you and me?
When is “at the end of the day”? Finally? Eventually? At the end of the project? At the end of the year?
To Edward, I recommended clarity and conciseness as a business writing brand. They never go out of style. Once adopted, they never require a change of habit, just small adjustments for particular audiences, purposes, and media. Clarity and conciseness work in any industry, at every slot on the organization chart. They travel well.
Imagine clarity and conciseness as a brand in your business. If everyone lived the brand, what would change?