… all I ask from them, said the reputable canoe manufacturer in the Mississippi Delta, is that they are committed! “What does ‘committed’ mean?” replied Anthony Bourdain!…

I agree with Mr. Bourdain, before we continue, let’s make sure we all speak the same language…. or at least we mean the same thing.

Let me start with an experiment to explain this better …

I sent an email to 12 of my colleagues at my company with the question: “What does ‘committed’ mean?”,

The following are the answers I received:

  1. Remaining supportive of an idea, both in words and actions.
  2. Undeterred loyalty. Uncompromising favor. An enduring relationship unaffected by circumstances or events.
  3. When I’m ‘committed’, this means that I fully and unconditionally embrace that cause (whatever it is I’m committed to, whether joyful or painful) with mind, heart and soul.
  4. Wholly dedicated to a person, place, thing or cause.
  5. A relationship that won’t change because of circumstances.
  6. If I am committed, it means I will follow through.  It means I care and you have my word. It’s part loyalty, part duty. It’s a verbal contract of some sort.
  7. Dedication to finish whatever you have set your mind on, whether it is an objective or a project.
  8. For me committed means engaged with, involved with.
  9. No limits! No excuses! Till the end!
  10. To me, committed means to be (or feel oneself) dedicated to something for a purpose; to be loyal to a service or to a cause.
  11. To commit is to make a promise and to do everything in your power to make it happen.
  12. Committed – being a father, a husband, a good person and a fan of your favorite team…

For over a decade, I’ve had to co-create, with and for global teams. In the beginning, I identified the breach in our communication ?as a barrier in language. If Americans had difficulty understanding what I meant with my strong Sofia Vergara-style accent, how could a Thai marketing manager understand my words?

Back then, I thought the solution was to put everybody’s thoughts in writing. The infamous conference calls were supported by a conversation thread in our company’s Basecamp software.

Although my notes were carefully proofread, (in writing the accent is not as charming) we were still having difficulty aligning our thoughts.

Experience makes masters. After years of frustration and countless hours of back and forth comments on Basecamp, I discovered that the problem is not the language barrier, but the many meanings, subjective perceptions and cultural assumptions a word might carry.

Today, my biggest ally in branding is the dictionary and its cousin the thesaurus. As I unravel what the soul of a company is, I navigate through the many words that can or can’t express it… and most importantly, what they mean.

Once we understood clearly what we meant, then and only then… we were ready to articulate the story.

Talking about accents and meanings, I would like to leave you with a video from Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron’s speech as he was being awarded the Golden Globe for Best Director this year…. 

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July 1st, 2014 0 comments Branding Strategy