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Does your brand speak human?

May 18, 2011

In a great post from The Economist about the language of air travel the author discusses how insider language creates a disconcerting experience for air travelers.

For a category, where service is supposed to matter, the failure of language to bridge the gap and create more humanity and warmth is a big opportunity that could be seized, which to some extent- both Virgin and Southwest have taken.

“…one last thing about airlinese: the weird intonation that makes flight attendants stress every auxiliary verb:  “This is a completely full flight, so we do ask you to keep your bags beneath your seats. Federal regulations do prohibit smoking on all flights and you are asked to please not smoke in the lavatories.  All electronic items must now be switched off as we have closed the doors and are preparing to taxi.”  It’s weird. I notice when flight attendants don’t do this, and I appreciate it, because I hear a real human at the other end of the curly wire.

Most professions (including journalism) have insider language that has a social value for its users.  Lawyers, consultants, athletes and others are no different. But anyone dealing with the public (especially when giving them bad news like a ground stop) is well advised to put aside the jargon.  It makes you look not professional, but aloof and clueless about what your customers are going through.”

We are all familiar with personality and tone in brand guidelines, but I 
wonder if customer service brands could go as far as having language guidelines for their employees?