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Although these are subtle differences that most people understand when spoken in context, such differences across a language and linguistics can create a challenge for PR/communications professionals who are always striving to effectively communicate a brand’s message to an audience. In many cases, PR professionals can refer to the AP Stylebook for the proper grammar and use of a word. But, some differences, particularly regional dialects, just aren’t covered.
In 1999, the Harvard Dialect Survey, collected data on terms/sounds that were used differently across North America. Last month, this study went viral after Joshua Katz, a Ph.D. student, used the data to inform a series of maps illustrating the variances in speech across the U.S. (Side note: a great proof point for the power of using visuals to make a story come to life!).
In my mind, this all begs the question: Do these variances directly impact how a brand is perceived? If a company decides to be a “soda company” vs. a “pop company” – will that turn off a particular audience?
While the answer to that particular (exaggerated) example leans toward “unlikely,” the topic of dialect variances as a roadblock to effectively communicating a brand story remains.
Have you ever been faced with a situation where dialect got in the way of communicating? What are other cultural factors that influence the way we communicate a brand’s story?