In the past 30 years marketing has been shaped by concepts of brand,
which shaded into notions of identity. Both might be important, but
they are very different. Where communicators have lost sight of the
difference their work has become poorly-directed, often banal,
sometimes even offensive.
Although it’s clear the world has changed radically, management
thinking remains rooted in 20th century models of industrial
organisation. While business people speak all the time of creativity
and innovation, their actions privilege uniformity over diversity.
Communication is still seen primarily as a control mechanism, a way
of constraining possible responses, rather than a way of engaging and
bringing together people whose interactions might generate value for
I’m a writer, not a behavioural psychologist, but my training in literary
scholarship gave me a grounding in the ways words work on us, the
ways meaning may be reshaped by variations in context. In
commercial practice this discipline underpins the critical thinking I’ll
apply to any communication task. Some tasks really are simple, others
only deceptively so. As a manager you might think it’s important to
“get the message across”. I’d argue it’s more important to focus on
what you want to achieve, and then think through the different ways
communication might get you there. It’s unlikely to involve the
transmission of a single message.
Why should you work with me? It’s because I like to think before I
speak, and I can help you do the same.
Being true, my “business blog” (link below) features
reflections on corporate practice, effective
communication, brand, identity and good writing.
Skills in summary
Websites, social media, (including blogs), brochures, white papers,
guides, scripts (audio and video), speeches, journalism (news and
features), complete publications, ads and direct mail.
Communication audit and analysis, strategic concept and channel
development, message grids and structure, evaluation
Individual coaching, group masterclasses, platform speaking
Five tones of voice
Click here to download this free PDF guide for corporate
In the last thirty years the relationships which communication is conceived to
improve have mostly got worse, with trust falling across the board.
This isn’t simply a communication problem. Few businesses have found a way to
love their customers, while those customers themselves have come to view
business with increasing cynicism. Meanwhile for employee communication the
chasm between management and staff self-interest has grown wider, with typical
engagement scores stuck at around 30 per cent, and productivity stubbornly static.
Poor communication can and is making things worse. Business (and political)
language has become a strange thing, infused with jargon and Orwellian
If they want to improve their relationships organisations must learn to speak as
humans. It's not simply about the words you choose, but critically about the
quality of the thought behind your words. The human project is a means of
rethinking common and misplaced assumptions about our diverse audiences,
about what they think, what they expect and will accept. It's a way of asking what it
is we're really trying to achieve, and how we expect it to happen.
The human project