I was struck by the tone of the Nationwide’s recent letter to my daughter:
Something like 20 years ago we did a big campaign of work for Nationwide, stretching over a year or more. Part of it was a straightforward exercise in drafting their basic materials, from letters to leaflets to ads. But the other part was a conscious empowerment programme, aiming to equip Nationwide with a clear and distinct tone of voice, and help them put it to work.
Looks like it was a success! They can communicate. The messages come across clearly, and they sound like people, rather than adenoidal officials.
Not that there isn’t room for improvement.
Dear MISS A S PATERSON
…is no way to address your customers. Use her first name if you have the balls (and you should). If you can’t bring yourself to, then at least don’t bludgeon her with POINTLESS CAPITALS. And if you can’t or won’t make it human, then discard it altogether; it won’t be missed.
And why begin by offering ‘your replacement Personal Identification Number (PIN)’? Does anyone ever call it that? Why not
…your replacement PIN
If you really feel the need, you can spell out the acronym in the following chunk of body copy.
But on the whole, not bad! Certainly a major improvement on the kind of bloodless officialese that was the norm for such communications back in the day.