Language is never just words
The words we use make certain options more attractive than others. The reason is simple: When we say something in a different way we are saying something different. Face the public and you’ll need a convincing narrative, presented in terms that your stakeholders appreciate.
Wir nennen etwas so oder so, und schon machen wir es attraktiver. Ist auch klar: Wenn wir etwas anders sagen, sagen wir etwas Anderes. Wer seine Zielgruppe anspricht, braucht eine gute Geschichte – und Wörter, mit denen die Zuhörenden etwas anfangen können.
Here’s what discourse analysis can do
Discourse analysis provides you with a systematic look at how your target group verbalises their preferences. It shows how a particular term is used, as well as the underlying values shaping each interaction.
Most of my projects are qualitative at heart and consist of a close analysis of a small sample of relevant sources. With my team, I am able to complement this work with quantitative analyses of larger amounts of text. Both methods work across languages. The selection of texts will always be guided by your interest.
Results of each analysis will be presented in clear graphics, ideally in a workshop setting, and will often include targeted recommendations.
Strengthening communities through changes in language
“What is trust, and should we talk about it?”
A financial services provider asked me how they could improve their client-facing communications. My systematic review of research into trust helped them decide which one of their campaign ideas was best. (Short answer to the above questions: It’s a practice, and, no.)
“Why are both Black Friday (cheap) and luxury brands (expensive) black?
A large retail conglomerate launched an overhaul of their colour scheme. We looked at the interplay of colours, language, and even fonts to ensure that brands stayed on message. Like in so many projects, everybody on the project team enjoyed the comparisons made across national markets.
“Why don’t they want a smarter home?”
Resistance to smart technology is wide-spread. If you want to address it you have to understand it. My analysis for a marketing agency showed that the devil was in the detail of a small class of words that are hardly ever noticed but manage to colour virtually the entire discourse around AI.
“Who’s an expert on health?”
Research for a large public institution revealed that very often in debates around health the issue is not information as such but the status accorded to those who may possess it. Discourse analysis informed by theories of knowledge provided a solid basis for new forms of stakeholder engagement.
“Why do they ride an e-bike?”
You get the best insights into people’s attitudes and preferences not when you ask them but when you listen to what they are saying anyway. We conducted a comprehensive study on motivations for using electric bicycles, and were able to help one of the market leaders position themselves.