‘Generic’ - perhaps the single best word to describe how most companies communicate. The use of so called “formal” or “professional” language is a long standing standard used by most organisations to this very day. Originally a form of etiquette to instill trust and professionalism. However it’s been so overused (and misused), the reality is that it isn’t just boring, stale, but also makes you look lazy and sketchy. So many seem to use it less to maintain etiquette, and more of a way to polish turds.
Think about it, how often do you see the same words being used over and over? Innovative, competitive, different, challenging, go-getter, independent, team-player, think-outside-the-box, etc. etc… It is such a mainstay that people automatically become put-off and suspicious.
Instead of projecting trustworthiness, companies appear non-transparent and deprived of any personality. As if they are hiding something, like some stranger not telling what flavour ice-cream he is selling unless you get into his van first…
(yeah, try getting that image out of your head)
It isn't all bad though
Google is an example of an excellent communicator. Despite being an all encompassing global juggernaut, Google knows exactly who its audience is and how to talk to them. Instead of using the usual corporate jargon, they keep things direct and straightforward, using the same vocabulary one would use as when telling friends something over casual conversation. From the renowned Google doodles, to the (in)famous April fool’s jokes, to their job descriptions, to even their press releases; Google is a company that exudes personality, and it’s audience loves it for it.
In other words, by projecting distance, companies do nothing but alienate their audience. And that brings up the main problem, which is that professional language is incredibly impersonal and patronising. It either tries to elevate the speaker above the listener (oh look at me, I’m so cool) or it tries to exclude all those that aren’t familiar with their fancy words.
At the end of the day, we are all humans, and more companies and “professionals” need to take their heads outta their asses, get off their high horse, and be it admittedly scary at first, communicate with people, as people.
The lesson if you want to stand out? Be different. Just, be you.