I’ve had so many clients over the years tell me “This doesn’t sound like us.” Their problem? I simplified, I made them sound, well, “childish.” Within the corporate structure, young people in particular learn how to talk “the way the company talks.” It consists of corporate words assembled in a way that sounds intelligent, but confuses even other staff. Then they hire an advertising agency to “talk to the consumer.” The shock they experience when they read the copy is, well, shocking. One vice president even told me—in a crowded meeting— “my eight-year-old could have written this.” I was presenting a campaign to improve bank staff morale. My idea was to encourage them to participate, to express their views, to give their knowledge and impressions of customers (front line afterall). This had worked incredibly well in Britain. When I finished my presentation, the same vice president said “We’re NOT trying to encourage participation. We’re trying to replace tellers and other staff with machines. What do you think an ATM is? Why don’t we just give staff a toaster or something?” When you see anything written in long, cursive, unintelligable language, think of this vice president. Bad writing always comes from the top (and sometimes that includes schools).