General rants

Avoiding the font frenzy


You have access to tens of thousands of fonts. But you probably shouldn’t use more than a couple of them. Why? Once, businesspeople communicated primarily using devices called typewriters. Most typewriters offered just one font, and the most popular model in offices, the IBM Selectric, used a font we know as Courier. Somehow, everyone managed … Read more

Don’t use yesterday’s words to communicate with today’s consumers

today's consumers

Rapidly tap your wrist in front of an AARP member, and she’ll assume that you’re worried about running late. Do the same thing in front of a 23-year-old co-worker, and you’ll get a blank stare. As times and technologies change, expressions based on those technologies change right along with them — and an experience that’s … Read more

Nobody Cares About Your Mission Statement

writing rules provoke response

I’ve stated many opinions in this space, but few are as likely to trigger as intense a reaction as the headline of this article. Among many executives, mission statements are a sacrosanct cornerstone of corporate governance. But I’ll stand by my statement. Now, I’m not saying that your mission statement is unimportant. After all, a … Read more

My most frustrating meeting

unintended messages frustrate woman

We’ve all sat in our share of frustrating meetings, but I can still remember the meeting that very nearly did me in. It took place in 1987 in a Chicago boardroom. A group of automotive industry CEOs (you’d recognize most of the company names) was meeting with a pair of representatives from a social services … Read more

Messages that unwittingly unravel your marketing efforts


Businesses invest quite a bit of time and money into sending messages to their customers. Unfortunately, most don’t realize that many of their actions result in other messages that may be inadvertent, but are also pretty dangerous. Financial institutions are particularly adept at delivering the wrong messages. After going through the semiannual ritual of gathering … Read more