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Why Words Matter

Written By Jon Budington

October 16, 2020

“Words Matter” is imprinted on the side of my coffee cup. It isn’t a particularly original message, but amplifying language is the core function of our business. If words didn’t matter, More Vang wouldn’t exist.

Words are essential to the process of creating belief—the core need of all More Vang clients. We don’t buy a product, join an organization or support a cause that we don’t believe in. And while we may have concrete reasons for these decisions, our beliefs are largely intangible.

We believe in God and that our vote counts. We’ll accept money in exchange for our labor, and some of us might use that money to buy an education for a better life. Ideas like religion, the value of money and thoughts on our future selves are all forms of belief. But we don’t all worship in the same way or vote for the same candidates. We certainly don’t spend our money on the same things. Words alone don’t make us believers.

There are currently 7.8 billion people living on the planet. Incredibly, no two of us will live the same life. We are a planet of unique individuals, each with our own collection of experiences. As we attempt to assign meaning to the occurrences in our lives, we find ourselves drawn to different narratives, and thus, form different beliefs.

So, pulling all of this together, our beliefs develop through our unique experiences combined with narratives that provide perspective on those events. Amplification of these narratives helps form communities of like believers. I’ve simplified this concept into a handy formula:

As a marketer, I find this formula helpful when working with clients. What do you know about the unique experiences of your customers? Do you have data on that? What narratives are you using to align those experiences to the brand? And finally, what methods of amplification are you utilizing? Ah yes, I forgot about the final, and most important component of belief creation—the amplification method.

Advancements in amplification methods have been responsible for much of the progress, but also the conflict, in our history. From the invention of the printing press that set Martin Luther’s ideas free to Walter Cronkite’s television broadcast critiquing U.S. strategy in Vietnam, technology has been steadily working to democratize information. But as history has shown us, conflict is often the consequence.

Modern online tools have been exponentially effective at disrupting beliefs. As we move away from the shared narratives of legacy broadcast media to the hyper-focused stream of conversation now shared on social platforms, our beliefs are changing at an ever-increasing speed.

I am an optimist, so I’m prepared for a world with improved opportunities for us to share ideas and opinions. But we should all remember that our greatest successes as a civilization have come about through shared beliefs, and we need to look a little harder for those these days.