Have you ever stopped to think about whether the language you use within your brand marketing is positive or negative?
I read an article recently that was looking at the power of positive language in parenting. By using positive phrases rather than negative ones, the writer was saying, you’ll get better results from your children - and more quickly - because the brain finds it easier to interpret a positive.
So for example, instead of saying, “Don’t eat with your hands!” you could say, “Please eat with a fork.” Likewise “Please close the door quietly” would be far more effective than “Don’t slam the door!”
It’s a subtle difference but it makes a lot of sense and I’m definitely going to try it with my own kids - not least because it will help me to feel like less of a nag!
Should vs Could
I came across a similar idea a few months ago in a book I was reading, in which the author was looking at the difference between ‘should’ and ‘could’ when it comes to motivating good behaviour in ourselves.
If you tell yourself you should do more exercise, for example, it carries with it the implication that you’re not doing enough now. It’s subtly negative, and is likely to make you feel discouraged and disinclined to take the steps you need to in order to get that exercise.
However, if you rephrase your thought so it becomes “I could do more exercise”, suddenly you’ve given the whole thing a positive spin. Now you’re looking at your potential to change. It stimulates your imagination and you automatically start thinking about how you could fulfil this new possibility. That’s much more motivating.
Positive language in marketing
So what does all this have to do with your marketing copy? Well, in the same way that positive language can have a favourable impact on ourselves and our children, it can also positively influence our customers and clients.
Take this line from the Rin Hamburgh & Co own website health check offer: “Our website health check service will help you figure out what’s working and where there's potential for improvement.”
I could have said it will help you figure out “what’s working or what’s not”, but I didn’t want people to focus on the negative ie what’s not working. I’d never want anyone to feel bad about the copy they already have. Instead I want them to focus on the potential for improvement - a positive, an aspiration for better things in the future.
By adjusting your language you can not only drive positive action in your target audience but also leave them feeling good about their interactions with your brand. This is incredibly powerful when it comes to building brand image and creating the kind of loyalty and trust that leads to repeat business.
Take a look at your website, your 60 second pitch, even your emails. Wherever you see a negative, think about how you can rephrase it into a positive. You’ll soon get into the habit of using positive language and the subtle shift will breathe new life into your business communications.