This week we are talking about language, but first let me give you a little bit of context. Most organisations don’t connect with their customers and staff half as well as they could and as a result, they’re losing customers and employees at a shocking rate.
My guest is the Language Strategist, he’s helped companies like Vodafone, Allianz and Google to be more human and make that connection.
He’s going to reveal how language is the key that’ll unlock the door to a more authentic brand and happier customers. My guest is Ben Afia.
Ben Afia is a consultant, writer and speaker, specialising in brand strategy and language. His claim to fame is helping Ronseal work out what to say on the tin.
He’s helped companies manage their brand and tone of voice longer than most, starting in 2001 at Boots, when managing language was only just becoming a thing. He created a new tone and went on to help people across the business to get better results from agencies and freelancers.
In 2005, with a first baby on the way and a week from exchanging contracts on a new house, Boots made Ben redundant. Which seemed like the perfect moment to set up Afia.
Afia is turning the world of “corporate speak” on its head by helping companies to be more human. He is always looking for the easiest way to get something done. It’s the same thinking he’s brought to successfully changing the culture of companies like Aviva, E.ON, Legal & General and Boots. ‘If we make this easy for anyone to grasp, they’re far more likely to adopt it.’ Hence the straightforward, memorable tone of voice structure.
Afia’s tone of voice structure uses a language format the same as people do when they’re talking to each other face to face. Of course the tone will vary depending on who you’re talking to and what you want to say, but Afia has found it helps organisations to build stronger relationships with their customers and for the people who work there to get on better with each other.
Through his work at Afia he has helped companies like Allianz Insurance win more customers, BP to develop their employer brand and Google to help people understand digital marketing better. In the travel sector he’s helped BCD get in touch with what their customers need, and companies like Haven Holidays create a wonderful customer experience that starts the minute they open a brochure. He’s also helped Twinings to harmonise their packaging around the world, Vodafone build better relationships with their customers, and AirBP to get in touch with their heartbeat. That work was so effective they were still using Ben Afia’s words 5 years later.
Recorded: 8th October 2019
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