… It’s How You Say It

January 21, 2014, 6:40 pm

The theme of language keeps popping up in my conversations. I’ve become very conscious with how we communicate with users – not just the content, but the tone as well.

A recent interaction with Google stimulated by thinking. They offered me a Glass upgrade and this was their confirmation message:


I was struck by the informal conversational nature of the email. It’s totally on brand for them, but it made me feel happy. Obviously getting free hardware is a positive occurrence, but the whole sequence of transactions left me with a good memorable experience. They want me to feel excited about their product and my ongoing relationship with them.

Lauren and I have been talking about this concept. Could you craft a personality for a library? A common voice for all written transactions? An experiential brand that manifests through text? Think about how you would want to be treated by a library. Friendly. Encouraging. Helpful. Perhaps even a dash of humor?

Imagine requesting a book and getting a text like this:

 Good news! Your library book is ready. Drop by the front desk and grab it by Friday. BTW: We hope it’s exactly what you need. Good luck with whatever you’re working on.

Ok, maybe that’s not the exact message, but you get the point. You’d have to craft a personality to match your community, but rather than “just the facts” here is a chance for some brand building.

Lauren framed this nicely as “expressing our excitement that you’re using library materials.” That’s more powerful than “here is your stuff.” I recently had an experience at a store where the clerk made me feel like she was “doing me a favor” by ringing up my sale. We want the opposite of that. I’m really curious to look at customer-obsessed companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple to see how they focus on setting a mood or expressing a tone via their emails, texts, and web pages.

Professionally we talk a lot about value. I think showing more personality and positivity could go a long way toward how users feel about us. Imagine if we could sound like [scholarly] cheerleaders instead of the compliance office. No offense to accountants, building inspectors, and sysadmins out there.

I tackled this concept years ago in a more whimsical manner: Even Overdue Fine Notices Should Show Some Personality: Branded Messages & The Little Cloud Concept The formatting is a bit off because it is a pre-Chronicle era post that didn’t migrate very well.

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