Our Work: Be less like Leonard

We helped one of the UK’s largest banking groups to create a workplace where people spoke and wrote in simple English – not the strange and complex language many corporations get stuck with.

The Group had invested heavily in its cultural aspirations programme with new tools, cultural champions, guides and tools. Yet they weren’t breaking through: the styleguides were sitting on a digital shelf and being forgotten.

Our approach was not to instruct, but to entertain.

So we created Leonard The Leader, the guy nobody wanted to be like: a verbose, self-absorbed and somewhat tragic figure whom everybody would recognise and grow to love, even if he served as a counter-example of how to communicate clearly and succinctly.

We wrote a poem, created a series of materials for use online, and even had Leonard’s squad of wannabe’s attending events with bowler hats and moustaches.

Spare a thought, dear reader
For poor Leonard the Leader
Whose writing was florid and wordy.

He used lengthy words
And not enough verbs
And instead of three words, he used thirty.

Leonard cranked out his prose
Like a burst water hose
Filled with phrases conducive to seizures

But what Lenny forgot
Was that his writing was not
For himself, but his long-suffering readers.

Their attention would flitter
Quite distracted by Twitter
While he wrongly assumed they were captive

One by one, they would tire
Throw his notes in the fire
And turn to things far more attractive.

So – the lesson to learn
From Leonard’s sad turn
Is a motto for any good scribe:

“Keep it short, sharp and snappy …
Keep your busy readers happy …
And use the Group’s Tone of Voice Guide!”