language insights

Our take on the most, and least, effective communication.

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June 18, 2015
Whole Foods Corrects its Brand Mistak
It’s hard to be a big brand these days, especially when you’re trying to communicate with millennials. With so many recommendations flying around, it’s easy to lose sight of your brand’s values in hopes of winning over a sought after audience.
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Winning an election is about gainfully defining the choice being presented. It is about successfully creating such a stark contrast between you and your opponents that when voters walk into a booth, picking which lever to pull is the easiest choice of the day.  

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You're walking into the office after an off-site meeting. Do you say hello to your team as you walk in, or head straight to your desk to get to work?

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In 1980, Americans voted for a new day. 
In 1992, Americans voted for a new direction.
In 2008, Americans voted for hope and change.

In two generations, these are the only 3 times a non-incumbent captured the popular vote.  Once America elected the voice of conservatism, once the voice of moderate pragmatism and once the voice of progressivism.  Their ideologies were wildly different but they all shared one unique trait. 

Despite the fact that they all ran in the midst of Washington dysfunction, economic weakness and challenges overseas, none of their candidacies were defined by these problems.  Instead, each chose to rise above them.    

Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all campaigned in the language of dreamers.  They painted us a picture of what America could become.  No campaign can ignore our problems, but powerful campaigns don’t make them the centerpiece, either.  From tone to imagery to language, these campaigns made America’s problems a preamble to optimism about the future. 

It’s the one American story that wins most easily in November.  No matter how bad our politics or our economy or our foreign policy seems, Americans choose leaders who see the future as an opportunity and who make us believe that we can be better tomorrow than we ever have been before.  Optimism is king.

Obvious right? 

Enter the GOP primary candidates in 2016.  In analyzing the words and framing used by 7 candidates likely to be stumping in Iowa soon, it wasn't obvious to them.  While all have moments where they try to portray optimism and vision, 6 of the 7 frame their mission in language that has more to do with restoring past greatness than looking forward. 

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May 11, 2015

As Hillary Clinton embraces the support of Super PACs, Lee Carter joins The Strategy Room to talk about what this means for the candidate's image.

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May 06, 2015




The best way to kill your brand new message strategy? Management by announcement.


We spend a lot of time developing effective message strategies. But we spend almost as much time making sure they stick. Making sure they become embedded throughout an organization. We see time and time again that simply unveiling the new direction often doesn’t get you there. An announcement isn’t enough. The good news? Getting a consistent, universally adopted, and long-lasting message is possible for any organization.


Here are 7 principles that will make sure your new messaging sticks:

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May 01, 2015

Many very smart, and very savvy people will disagree with me, but I hate the term “Personal Brand.”


That’s not to say I think nothing of the concept. You only have to go through the job-seeking mill to see that online presence is everything today. I recently helped a friend answer a job application—she was poleaxed by the long list of links and handles she was required to submit to prove her employable personhood. Personal branding is effective and necessary. But why can’t we brand it better?


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This morning, news broke that two hostages held captive by al Qaeda, an Italian and an American, had been killed during a U.S.-led counterterrorism operation in January of this year. The loss of any hostage comes as shock to our conscience, even at a time when that shock is more frequent than ever before. But the loss of two during an operation meant to prevent a future where those events are more common seems especially cruel.


A cruelty that was felt in President Obama’s statement on the tragedy this morning.


President Obama has a manner of speaking that is reserved, solemn, and measured, even in the wake of tragedy or scandal. And to many, it comes across as unfeeling. But the language he chose in today’s statement, I believe, erases that critique.


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By m+p intern Nick Friedman

The objective of every sports franchise is to win. Yes, winning brings eternal glory, but more importantly winning brings fans. And more fans means more money. So what should a sports team do when they’re not winning? When winning seems a long way off?

They need to communicate. And they need to follow these simple rules:


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April 13, 2015

Lee Carter joins Fox News to discuss the possibilities of a Chris Christie presidential run, and what it would take for him to throw the hat in the ring.

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