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QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK US

Q: What do you (actually) do?

Q: What is ‘discourse analysis’? And what can it do for me?

Q: What kind of organisations and people use your services?

Q: Where does your business come from?

Q: How big is a project? What does it involve?

Q: Will your work help us design better communications? Or help me reposition our brand?

Q: I'm interested, but how can I write you a brief? I'm not sure exactly what I’m asking you to do…

Q: Do you work in lots of languages?

Q: We’re not sure we’re ready for this yet... Can we talk once we’ve sorted the brand/strategy/merger out?

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Q: What do you (actually) do?

A: In a typical project we analyse – in forensic detail – your organisation’s everyday habitual language. Sometimes we also analyse the language around you – that of competitors, media and more.

Why the focus on your language? We believe an organisation's culture is crucial to its success, but culture is hard to articulate and even harder to change. We analyse your culture via your everyday language and reflect it back to you - holding a mirror up. Once you and all your people can ‘see’ your culture clearly, you can look at it afresh – and all sorts of new options open up.

There are - of course - other ways to analyse corporate culture. The difference is how we do it, and the level of rigour and transparency of our process. We carefully analyse the language you use as an organisation, using analysis tools and frameworks based in academic language sciences – discourse analysis and linguistics. We’ve been developing these tools now for more than 10 years so they are designed for the job and sharp as sharp.

 
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Q: What is ‘discourse analysis’? And what can it do for me?

A: We developed our consulting tools through a decade of practical experimentation, using academic work in linguistics and discourse analysis. These disciplines offer well-grounded insight into language and how it works in practice. It’s very detailed and some is very ‘academic’ but we’ve made it usable for practical business issues.

Discourse analysis allows you to see the ‘subtext’ of language - the assumptions or world views that underpin normal everyday language – spoken and written, formal and informal. And it lets you see what is being ‘done’ with language – what effects and relationships are being built up or held in place.

We talk about it as language forensics – the surface clues scattered around in your language allow us to spot the deep-seated but totally unspoken rules and conventions that seem to determine how people think and act in your organisation. We show those to you, discuss them, and help you work out their implications for what you are trying to do.

 
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Q: What kind of organisations and people use your services?

A: We work with organisations that need to change, or to connect better with their users or customers. And those needing to do both.

We’ve worked with lots of well-known names - big corporates like American Express, ad agencies like Ogilvy, international charities like Oxfam, large public bodies like the NHS, and UK Government departments like HMRC and Dept. of Health. We’re happy, where we can, to put you in touch with someone who’s used us and who can discuss their experience with you.

People get excited by a fresh but well-grounded approach to perennial issues and new opportunities - in culture change, brand development, and customer experience – and our existing clients have led us to our new clients largely through word of mouth referral. Ours is a non-standard consulting method that’s not easy to define or ‘box’, but with the prospect of a genuinely effective outcome, we and our clients have found ways to make it work, even within traditional corporate structures.

Individuals who buy our services tend to fall into one of these categories:

  • People with responsibility for strategic direction and overview, usually in senior positions
  • People specifically responsible for strategic or cultural change
  • People with specific operational or functional responsibilities who understand or intuitively feel these are linked to internal culture.
 
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Q: Where does your business come from?

A: All our work to date has come from referral and repeat business.

 
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Q: How big is a project? What does it involve?

A: It does depend on your problem – really it does – but we work quite sharp and fast. Because we have clear analysis frameworks and we know the data and clues we are looking for, we can carry out a contained project, without too many people crawling over your place for too long, and still get a good ‘read’ on your culture.

We take a lot of data away and analyse it. We come back and share our findings with you, and show you exactly how we arrived at our conclusions.

Once you’ve seen what your internal language reflects about your culture – and recognised its implications for what you’re trying to do - we’ll work through those implications and possible actions with you.

We like to hand over knowledge to our clients – we’ll support you, but experience shows that once people are given a genuinely fresh way to think, that works better for them, they use and develop it with minimal external help.

 
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Q: Will your work help us design better communications? Or help me reposition our brand?

A: The first focus of our work is on you and your organisational culture. We work with language, but we use forensic language analysis as a way to access other things, rather than aiming specifically to produce ‘better’ language for your comms.

However, we do have tested frameworks for linking internal language and culture with other key functions like marketing, comms and operations. And we’ve shown how well-based work on internal culture results in stronger communications briefs and more grounded brand decisions. So yes, it will help you design better comms and it will help reposition your brand.

We’re also happy to work with your existing agencies and partners to weave the knowledge we produce for you into other projects and work streams.

 
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Q: I'm interested, but how can I write you a brief? I'm not sure exactly what I’m asking you to do…

A: The approach we use is simple and effective, but it doesn’t fit into a familiar consulting ‘box’. So we find a conversation – or indeed several – the best way to proceed. We understand it can take time to work out how to position this work to get the best out of it for your business. Call us on 44 1737 246155 or email us.

We can usually put you in touch with a client or two if you’d like to hear someone else’s experience first-hand.

 
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Q: Do you work in lots of languages?

A: We’re based in the UK and we can currently work globally in English and German.

We can discuss options and capabilities in other languages. If we can’t do what you need to do, and do it well, we will tell you.

 
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Q: We’re not sure we’re ready for this yet... Can we talk once we’ve sorted the brand/strategy/merger out?

A: Of course – happy to talk any time. But your organisational culture is going to affect all those things, so we’d advise you to think about surfacing it early on if you can.

 
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