One of the most enjoyable assignments I have had recently is writing for Rapid Refill. This printer ink recycler/refurbisher/retailer is striving to become more than just a seller of printer ink. Rapid Refill is the friendly expert about recycling all things within their community. They are creating a repository of frank, optimistic solutions for their customers to access and they do it with an authentic, helpful, friendly voice. Rapid Refill is using accessible WORDS to create their brand.
I compare that to a CEO of a Fortune 100 company who spoke recently to his leadership team about the frustration he had with words. Turns out he and his leadership team had created quite a snarl by turning the company loose on a goal that (roughly) sounded like this: “We will embrace a digital world and thrive on the connections it delivers.” I know what you are thinking: WTF? How does that help anyone figure out how to prioritize their work and the company’s opportunities? Yet, he stood in front of his team berating them for asking questions about what “the digital world” meant and what “connections” they were supposed to focus on.
As a business executive, most of us could use a good communications expert. Someone who will keep us on message and make sure that our vocabulary is as clear and as explicit as it can be. Jargon, acronyms and business shorthand (like “drinking the KoolAid” or “critique versus create”) slip into our conversations and make our communication cryptic for our listeners. In a Communication 101 class I took back at Michigan State, I learned that good communication is the responsibility of the speaker – not the audience. And yet, most of the time, speakers don’t take the time to objectively listen to their own communication and ask if they are being direct and clear enough for their audience to understand their true message.
As I mentioned in the earlier post “How Rabid Wolverines and Communication Threaten Your Company” Clear, unvarnished honest communication is a HUGE personal brand attribute. Developing a style that is accessible to everyone from janitors through CFO’s is important for directing a company or a classroom. If your team is unfocused – or worse, focused on the wrong things – ask yourself if you have been clear in your communication. My credo of “Chaos to Clarity” begins with clear communication.