‘THE GAME OF WORDS’: AN INTRODUCTION

Ezra Santos - Managing Director

 


Oh, I love a great story.

A great story can bring us together and spur us to action in a way that yelling “numbers, facts, charts and graphs, charge!” out loud never will. Unless, of course, you’re going for the funny looks, rolled eyes and ear circling of fingers around the boardroom table responses. But I digress. So, back to my original premise: I love a great story, because great storytelling inspires like no other.

This is an introduction to a series of articles (broken down by episode because I also love to mash up genres and obscure references, while being random) that discuss the power and responsibility of: semantics, authenticity, truth and integrity. In other words, “with great power comes great responsibility” (thank you once again French Revolution and Uncle Ben of the Spiderman comics for my favourite quote of 2015).

The game of words: episode III, semantics

We tend to associate ‘semantics’ with quibbling, and occasionally with manipulation. This is because semantics are often used to water down or to obfuscate meaning, and sometimes manipulate, in a communication exercise I call “the game of words.”

It’s too bad because semantics can actually be used to heighten meaning and to increase understanding, instead of engendering frustration and mistrust.

The game of words: episode IV, authenticity

Combined with our ability to crunch big data, the use of the following formula has led to a focus on offline and online presence that is story rich and ‘authentic’ but not necessarily true:

Understanding + narrative skills + compelling stories = authentic connection

When we (as an industry) water down the meaning of ‘authentic’, we run the risk of once again training consumers to tune out, and educate yet another generation to distrust marketing, advertising, and branding.

The game of words: episode I, truth

Truth must be the logic anchor in our storytelling formula:

If understanding + narrative skills + compelling stories = truth then => authentic connection

It’s really weird that we have to say this, but ‘authenticity’ must never be more important than truth (for clarity: truth means the facts are correct, it happened as told, there is no deception, and there is no lying by omission) – because if it’s not truthful then it really isn’t authentic no matter what semantic games we play.

The game of words: episode II, integrity

When we weave our corporate lore, and articulate our market-facing brand, I believe we are obligated to maintain integrity in our communications so that our story does not devolve into a ‘game of words’ that leads to a loss of credibility.

The game of words: cut to season ender teaser

Organizational storytelling is a vivid and memorable way to express who we are, what we believe, how we do things, and why that matters.

This introduction to ‘the game of words’ starts off a new series where we discuss how to use semantics, authenticity, truth and integrity for good not evil. By diving into the various episodes of ‘the game of words’ we will:

  • Discover the positive energy of negative language
  • Unleash the genuine power of shared stories
  • Untangle tactics from strategy
  • Lead meaningful change through organized storytelling