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Words. Matter. 

Follow me down the rabbit hole for a bit. I have been doing some reading on synesthesia, in a few cross-pollinated books. One book on the synesthesia that can occur with natural or synthetic hallucinogens, another on synesthesia in some uber-talented artists (Kanye West, Duke Ellington, Marlyn Monroe, Billy Joel, Lourde). What, you may ask,  is synesthesia? Simply put, it is a sensory transfer of sorts, where one sense exhibits as another. If you are sufficiently confused, here is an example: When some people HEAR the name Amanda, they may SEE the color violet. Or TASTE citrus. Listening to an opera, a synesthete might see (not imagine but see) colors aswirl. Synesthesia is relatively rare, and still there are 60+ different ways that it can exhibit. It exhibits in 3-5% of the population, more common in women than men. 

Words can create synesthesia, names or places, people or things. So that begs the question, if the most attune synesthete can taste words, is it not possible or probable that all of us are moved by words in some meaningful, subconscious or subcutaneous way? Are we all pulled by the tide of our language, so much so that our lives shift with what we hear every day? 

Switch gears to marketing. It positively stuns me when ‘marketers’ see words as an afterthought, when the script is left to amateurs. Words are the train that moves us from one locale to another and the conductor is the squire with the quill. You are, always, in one place. If the words don’t move you, stasis is the result. Oh, by the way, stasis is akin to death and certainly the opposite of action. 

Words have meaning, emotion, and variability based on pace and tone. Skilled copywriting is positively essential and myriad of skills are required to ring that bell. If my default brand of choice is, for example, Coke…how will you emote me into trying a Pepsi? Will you tug at my heartstrings or appeal to my logical frontal lobe with some stats? Will you ask me a question that lingers, triggers a response? Or will you just spew some word salad that does not call me to action in any way, regardless of my ability to transform words into feeling or action? 

There is a reason we still read Shakespeare, Melville and Aquinas. Words matter. And not just in a traditional ’30 second spot’ sense but on websites, in social posts, you name it (pun intended). Words can stun us into temporary innaction, harsh words or those displaced. Words can make us uncomfortable, uneasy, agitated…not all triggers to act but at a minimum to remember.  

Language is our inner city (to borrow a thought from Wittgenstein). It is how we commune with those around us, make ties and break ties, a universal place of being that binds us together. Going back to scripture, when God wants us confused he created a place where language(s) can’t suffice, like the Tower of Babel. Our ability to transfer preference, motive and passion all comes through the spoken word. If I can make you feel like I feel (Peter Frampton reference), I have sold you. If I can’t make you feel how I feel, you have sold me! 

Who holds the key to the inner city of the language used to describe your business? Who is the mouthpiece for the message in your world? Are they a better manager than a speaker? Should they be the voice or should a 3rd party take the mantle? 

Words. Matter. 

Erik Radle

A voracious reader, un unabashed foodie and struggling golfer, Erik holds multiple degrees from Baylor University where he attended as a National Merit Scholar. His involvement in the community includes support for organizations like Educational Media Enterprises and Park Cities Baptist Church. More info