15 Jan

Context is everything

I started making a point about this yesterday, so I’ll carry on where I left off.

If I came up to you two weeks ago and told you ‘I am Charlie’, this would mean nothing to you. It would just be – seemingly – a statement of fact.
If I happened to be called Charlie, all I’ve done is told you my name: pretty bland and a little pointless. If I didn’t happen to be called Charlie, then that statement would just be odd.
If I came up to you now and said ‘I am Charlie’, you’d definitely know what I was referring to and there’d be a lot of emotion attached to that short, previously irrelevant, statement.

If I’d come up to you prior to 1963 and said ‘I have a dream’, you might’ve thought I was expressing ambition, but nothing more.
Now consider that same phrase from the mouth of Dr Martin Luther King, and everything attached to those words thereafter.

‘We’ll fight them on the beaches’ could – prior to WWII – have been a bunch of kids referring to a turf war in Margate, over sandcastles.

It’s context that gives words power, not the words on their own.

Think about that in day to day life… and the next time you give your marketing the once over. Does what you’re saying – or, specifically, the words you’re using – match your business, how it’s viewed by others, or how it’s viewed by those you really want to reach?


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