This is the introduction to an article I first published on Medium.
Ping! A copywriting brief arrives in my inbox. Please, could I write a series of insightful blog posts for an international company? Of course! This is just the sort of thing I love to do. As a copywriter, I’m schooled in the value of clarity. I believe in using plain English rather than hiding behind unnecessarily complex language.
The company’s website, however, is a textbook example of the opposite — as are the briefs for each of the blog posts. They are full of business buzzwords and impenetrable phrases. The simplest concepts are hidden in run-on sentences and multi-syllable words.
I am presented with a dilemma: Should I emulate the tone of the company so my words sounded like they’re coming from someone who works there? After all, that’s the other main job of a copywriter — to write in different tones of voice so the work fits seamlessly into a company’s brand. Or, should I stick to my principles and write the blogs in plain English? I’ll come back to this question later on.
The brief opens up an even bigger question for me. The language I encounter in this project is far from rare. We all know people who speak like this; we may even speak like this ourselves. It’s a way of talking we don’t often choose when having conversations with friends. So why do so many of us choose to talk like this when we’re at work?
I decided to investigate why people hide behind buzzwords.
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