At Grist Towers we’re very suspicious of stuff you can’t measure. Science was where we started, at college and at the BBC, and Mr Grist was 20 years in the Science Department at the BBC, so it is strange that we find ourselves working in a world of intangibles.
One of our fundamental beliefs is that when you are selling, positive language is better than negative. Partly, this comes from a deep-seated belief in TV that words should be positive and active. Never say what something is not, always say what it is. And “Let’s go and find out” rather than, “We have found.”
I have yet to find the definitive piece of genuine scientific work to prove this is true, but I feel certain it must be out there. (Which may be comfirmation bias in action)
We know that we, as humans, value attractive people over the rest of us, so surely we like “attractive” words too?
It isn’t just TV people who believe this. Advertisers are in the business of selling the positive.
Tesco spend more money than any other retailer with the strapline “Every little helps.” Which is both active and positive. We’re “loving it” at McDonalds, (note loving) and you know “You’re worth it.”
TOP TWENTY ADVERTISING SLOGANS USED IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. Simples! – Comparethemarket.com
2. Every little helps -Tesco
3. Should have gone to Specsavers
4. Because I’m worth it – L’Oreal
5. Have a break, have a kitkat – KitKat
6. It does exactly what it says on the tin – Ronseal
7. I’m lovin’ it – McDonalds
8. I’m confused.com – Confused.com
9. You’ve been ‘tangoed’ -Tango
10. Finger lickin’ good – KFC
11. It’s good to talk – BT
12. Good things come to those who wait – Guinness
13. They’re grrrrreat – Kellogg’s Frosties
14. Probably the best … Carlsberg
15. Wassssuuuuupppp? – Budweiser
16. The future’s bright, the future’s orange – Orange
17. Just do it – Nike
18. What’s the worst that could happen- Dr Pepper
19. Maybe it’s Maybelline – Maybelline
20. The best a man can get – Gillette
There are some exceptions in the list. Confused have built a business on a negative, but what they have cleverly done is associate Confused with removing the confusion we already felt. But largely it’s the “best a man can get.”
Politicians get the positive language thing too. It is no coincidence that The Labour Party became electable when they put “New” in front.
“New” is just better, innit? Better than “Old”, just better.
The Great Communicator (the new one, not the old one) Barack, really gets the positive thing.
His 2008 campaign was built on “Yes We Can” Simple genius.
His aim? “Change” or “Change you can believe in” (Mr Cameron stole that) and, “Vote for Change”
Yes – the most positive word in the language – We – collective – Can – active.
Vote – active – Change – positive and active.
Watch this clip Barack when people criticised him for being “just a speechmaker”
Note early on when he says “To get excited and interested again in what works….”
and you or I would have said, “and what doesn’t work.” Obama doesn’t. He says “What works and what CAN work.” He’s turned a negative into a positive.
We humans are optimistic by nature. You can measure this. So we fundamentally are ready to hear the positives. It is my deep-seated belief that we like people who are positive and optimistic (within reason) and the simplest and best way to communicate that it to use positive language.