If you’re a subject-matter expert, it’s a good time to be communicating. People no longer believe leaders are telling the truth, reports the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer. The public is more likely to turn to other sources, such as academic experts, whom they rate highly credible.
But you can alienate your audience from the start if you indulge in jargon. Consider how the venerable publication, The Economist, begins its style guide: “The first requirement of The Economist is that it should be readily understandable. Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.”
Many great thinkers and writers have said as much, including Albert Einstein — “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” — and Leonardo da Vinci — “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Did you know that if you use jargon, 74 percent of people will think you don’t understand your own words? A clever infographic shows how people respond to jargon. Only 21 percent of people are happy to work with people who lace their conversations with jargon. And half of all people think you’re using jargon to sound smart!
With 1 billion smartphones in use, a million apps floating around, and thousands of advertising messages beaming at us daily, not to mention social media – you’ve got to work hard to get your messages through. Rule No. 1: Keep things simple!
In the past few years, I’ve received more questions from and provided extensive consultation to various units on how to build brands within the Virginia Tech brand. The university’s brand is meant to be flexible so that a department, center, or administrative unit can create its own sense of style without departing from brand guidelines.
Because reputation is embedded in name recognition, unique logo development may only create confusion with your audiences in regards to your affiliation with the university. Therefore, we simply don’t allow other logos. Ultimately, unique logos dilute the distinctiveness of Virginia Tech’s existing brand and may possibly result in a loss of legal rights.
Here are a few points to remember:
- University Relations can assist a department or unit with providing an overall brand update and use graphic elements as part of an overall design look.
- This update approach allows for branding of your unit while remaining a part of the Virginia Tech brand – it works well with brand guidelines and can be consistently used with your units’ communications.
- Graphic elements are usually made up of things like images, lines, shapes, colors, and textures that are used to communicate the look of a particular unit within the larger Virginia Tech brand.
- Of course, the university logo or college brand extension logo must be the dominant element of any advertising, poster, display, brochure, website, or signage.
- Also, if your college or larger unit has a larger brand style, we’ll attempt to work within this particular brand style as well.
We welcome meetings with departments and other units to discuss goals, audience, and applications of your brand. It’s a process that takes time and input, but will ultimately result in a new, unique style for your unit that reflects who you are as a distinct part of the university. Remember, in addition to information about your goals and audiences, bring examples to the meeting to show how you plan to use your new brand. Will you use it on newsletters? Postcards? Brochures? Website? We’ll definitely show you examples of how this approach has worked for a variety of units.
Please contact University Relations via the Marketing and Publications Request Form on the University Relations website for assistance with creating YOUR brand.
– Cecelia Crow
Brand Marketing Manager