Writing for your business is supported to help customers understand what it is you do, and why you do it. Big brands use simple, everyday language in everything they do, from the text on their websites, to the details of their service agreements. This is the essence of inclusive language. No matter the size of your business, using clear and inclusive language will help your customers feel more welcome, and it will help you build a strong brand.
Using inclusive language helps your writing resonate with more people, and it helps you build a strong brand.
Inclusive writing avoids language that discriminates on people based on their age, ethnicity, ability, and social standing. These are basic principles when it comes to writing for your business. You and the people that write for you will know what words not to use, based on experience. According to UK initiative Communication Access, inclusive communication is sharing information in a way that everyone can understand. It is also about supporting people to express themselves in their own way.
However, there could be words or phrases that create barriers for people without you necessarily knowing it. This can create confusion, and make your brand lose impact.
Just because we understand a term very well because it is our bread and butter, it does not mean that everyone will be familiar with it. People who do not speak English as a first language may struggle with a word that we consider common place. People with reading or learning difficulties may find it impossible to follow a piece of text that does not have a clear structure and defined headings.
Inclusive language can make your brand accessible to more people, and it helps you tell a more coherent and honest story about your business.
There are simple things you can remember that will help you write with inclusive language and make your brand stronger.
Tip 1: Use positive rather than negative sentences.
Using positive sentences helps you write shorter and more concise text. This is all about going straight to the point, instead of making circles around it.
⭐ Learn more about this
This page from a USA government website gives you a detailed examples and a guide to help you change your writing from negative to positive language: Use positive language
Tip 2: Avoid jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations.
Jargon gets a bad rep. I have seen a lot of funny words in the corporate world, and most of it was an etymologically complicated version of a simple word, like “happy” or “work together”. But sometimes, that funny word plays an important part in taking your staff on a journey.
Although specialised language has a prominent role in business, it is not always a useful way to write for customers. Jargon may confuse your customers and make them feel unsure about what it is you are selling to them.
So, if your writing contains specialist or trademark terms, you should try and replace them.
If you must use terms or acronyms, make sure that you explain them at least once and use the same term consistently across all your communication.
Tip 3: Communicate one idea per sentence.
Including too many thoughts in one sentence can be risky. This is because long and meandering sentences can make your message less clear. You risk making your customers forget the point of the sentence by the time they reach the end of it.
Try and keep sentences about 20 words long.
⭐ Learn more about this
Check out the blog ‘Three ways to tame a sentence’ by learning and development provider Emphasis.
Tip 4: Make the structure of your text clear with headings and lists.
This point will help you when you must write longer documents for your customers. You may need to write a policy, or terms of service. Moving through the text in a logical way will help you customers take the journey with you and understand your point better.
Using headings will help customers find key information easier. Using lists will help you break down long sentences and paragraphs and make your points clearer.
Headings will also make your text more accessible for people who use special software to go online, such as people who are visually impaired. The headings will tell the software where to go next, and they will help the user navigate your site more easily.
Using clear structure like this online also makes your website more Google friendly. This will improve your Search Engine Optimisation. This is also known as SEO. A lot goes into SEO, but what inclusive writing does is this: when a search engine finds a website with a good and logical structure, it can file it away easier. That helps show it to more people when they search for relevant things online.
These are my top four tips for building a strong brand with inclusive language.
What do you think? Do you know of other ways that you can use inclusive language in your business?
Not sure where to start making your language more inclusive?
If you are interested in making your language more inclusive, there are many free resources online that can help. Feel free to arrange a no-obligation call with me to discuss working together to make your language more inclusive and build a stronger brand.
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