January 31, 2017

Everyone wants to be an achiever. It’s better to be a work-in-progress.


It can be tempting for companies to try building brand equity by proving to their audiences that they’ve met goals, hit targets, done good…or have committed to do so in the future. Here’s what their audiences think:


You say...

  • We hit our goals
  • We increased our service reliability
  • We did...
  • We will…


your audience thinks…

Great. Why are you standing still NOW?


In hundreds of hours of research, we’ve seen that you can’t rest on your laurels or your promises. You can’t be standing still—you need to be moving forward. And your language signals how active you are being in the here and now.

There are lots of ways to signal that the effort you’re engaged in isn’t simply a one-off. 


Maintenance --> Ongoing Maintenance

Meeting goals --> Making progress

We did --> We’re getting better at

Recommendation --> Strategy

Stay sharp --> Staying sharp


Each of these examples shows a fundamental shift in how we use language; from signaling an event, to signaling an ongoing, active process. The most effective language shows that you’re consistently getting better, right now.


When communicating to your audience, it’s important to acknowledge that nothing you have done, or will do can be as impactful as conveying a sense of continued progress and improvement. Actions matter—active language makes them matter more.


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