Each of us is surrounded by our own tailored ecosystem of big-budget marketing, carefully constructed by teams of copywriters, designers, and strategists. And yet, our workplace communications can still feel like flyers for the high school play.
At LOCAL, we believe it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few lessons learned from marketing that you can plunder for your next all-employee email, initiative launch, or Zoom conference.
1. Name It Like You Love It
I’m sure that the first time I heard the brand name Outdoor Voices it didn’t click. But in some idle moment of scrolling Instagram, the intended resonance fell into place — a defiant and playful twist on “use your indoor voice” — and I loved it. Now I use the phrase without thinking; a memorable little parcel of mental real estate that I can access whenever I’m thinking about millennial athleisure.
Naming things is hard. But that shouldn’t stop you from carving out an evocative, clever, or elegant name for an internal program, initiative, or even department.
In corporate settings, folks tend to gravitate toward double-barreled, jargon-infused, nouns-as-verbs type language I won’t dignify here. I think it’s because they’re worried about credibility and compensation.
But I encourage you to think of naming in a looser, lighter way. Chances are, you’ll come up with something more memorable, approachable, and distinct than going with an obvious choice. And most importantly, it’s a chance to help crystallize your point of view. For instance, your department doesn’t have to be called “Human Capital Management.” It could just be called “Talent” or “People.”
I’m still holding out for a company to go ahead and introduce their new “Office of Folks.”
2. Get Emotional
In 1947, a junior copywriter named Frances Gerety was working on the De Beers account. She was tasked with coming up with a campaign line to strengthen the association between diamonds and romantic commitment.
The hastily-scrawled line she came up with — “A Diamond is Forever” — ended up being one of the most important sentences in advertising history. It helped create the concept of the modern engagement ring and helped accelerate an industry that’s now worth $72 billion a year.
The genius of Gerety’s line is that it taps into a very human desire for permanence. It offers the consumer a slim share of eternity, nodding to the primeval, geologically ancient quality of gemstones and gesturing toward the hope for lasting love.
Writing for an internal audience presents plenty of opportunities to tap into your team’s desires and goals. Your coworkers are motivated by a host of drives — to achieve, to belong, to make a mark, to be recognized. You can honor those urges with empathetic messaging that acknowledges their experiences and connects your goals with theirs.
So next time you’re tasked with communicating with your team, don’t make the mistake of stripping out the emotion. Take the opportunity to tell a story that connects with the things that make us human.
Don’t just congratulate Dave for hitting his Q3 sales targets. Say something like, “Dave did something that deserves our attention. He showed each and every one of us where focus and determination can get us. We’re lucky to have him on the team.” Chances are that Dave will appreciate the sentiment a whole lot more.
3. Make It a Ritual
Love it or hate it, I’ll bet Spotify’s annual Unwrapped feature is going to be with us for a long time.
In our content-hungry ecosystem, it’s very clever indeed to give people customized graphics that signify their music taste, encapsulate their listening habits, and spark comparison and conversation. It’s also becoming a ritual.
Employers have tons of data and anecdotes at their disposal. Using it in a (non-creepy!) way can be a fun way to build loyalty, celebrate the human side of work, and build culture.
Get some enamel pins or embroidered patches made. Give them out to your Monthly Slack Champion in a lighthearted ceremony. Or create a formalized shoutout system that brings unheralded good work to light in a public way. It’ll help your people feel seen and valued.
Next time you’re faced with producing something for the team, give yourself permission to get creative with it.
Marketing exists because it works. Applying its principles of craft to your next internal communication could help catch attention, promote affinity, and even drive adoption.