It’s time for lift off
Written by Quietroom
Today, we launch a new Quietroom website.
Getting to this point has been an odyssey. We started thinking about it pretty much as soon as we’d finished the old website. The reason it’s taken us this long is that we wanted to do it properly – with as much thought and rigour as a project we’d run for a client. We got together, we interviewed clients, we tested copy, and during the process, we realised some big things.
1. Our clients don’t need us because they know too little – they need us because they know too much
We work across lots of different sectors, but most of them are pretty heavyweight – pensions, protection, investment, energy and government. No one working in these sectors sets out to produce bad communication. But despite their best efforts, they end up being complex, dry and distant.
This doesn’t stem from weakness, but from strength overdone. Our clients are experts. That makes it harder to communicate, not easier. The more you know about a subject, the harder it becomes to connect with someone who knows less than you. You say too little, because you assume the other person knows more than they do. You say too much, because you assume they care as much as you about the detail. And you talk in a way that makes perfect sense to professors, but sounds like double-Dutch to everyone else. And yet, you’re the one with all the answers. You just have to find a way to make them more meaningful to more people.
That’s how we see our job. We want to do for sectors like pensions, protection and energy what Brian Cox has done for particle physics: find a way of talking that brings more people into the conversation.
2. We enjoy our work most when it makes a difference to people’s lives
We get a kick out of tripling sales, halving complaints and lifting response by a factor of 17. And yet, when we looked at the projects we were collectively proudest of, another theme emerged for us too. Whether it was helping Good Energy motivate people to start generating their own electricity, or helping Which? make consumers as powerful as big organisations, or helping people with a low reading age understand tax or pensions, we were always making a difference to people’s lives. The subject matter might seem dry and technical at first. But this is the stuff that keeps the world turning. That’s exciting.
Besides, we don’t think anything’s really dry or technical. It’s as interesting as you make it. Which brings us to…
3. Great communication is clear, vivid and real
Clear, vivid and real is our blueprint for better communication.
When you’re clear, the other person gets what you mean first time, without having to ask again or phone the helpdesk. That stops them getting frustrated, and it saves you time and money. These are good things.
When you’re vivid, they can see what you mean too. By which I mean: they can actually picture what you’re talking about. The more vivid the picture, the easier it is to remember – and the easier it is to share with someone else. If you want your message to travel far and wide, this is how to do it.
When you’re real, the other person can relate to what you’re saying. It doesn’t feel abstract, or fluffy, or removed from the reality of their lives. It feels solid and credible. If you want to show someone you understand them, and you see the world from their perspective, keep it real. But remember…
4. Language is a tool to get things done, not an end in itself
When you’re a writer, it’s easy to sweat about Oxford commas, split infinitives and dangling modifiers and forget what it’s all for. As much as we love words and communication, what we really get excited by is what they help us do.
We were inspired early on by ‘How Language Transformed Humanity’, a great TED talk from biologist Mark Pagel. According to Pagel, early human tribes evolved language to access a powerful new tool: cooperation. This really caught our imagination. It’s like business, we thought. The right words don’t just help us win customers and close deals. They help us share ideas and build on each other’s success. They help us collaborate, coordinate, and get the job done. Businesses that are good at this stuff outperform their competitors. Who doesn’t want to sign up to that?