November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Friday Lunch

Today, I led the team in a quick exercise to validate a distinction that myself and Bruce Kaechele needed for how we talk about Fathom. It might appear to some to be semantics, but we needed to ensure that the language we use truly represents who we are.

In the work that we do, we see little or lasting value in creating something that is fabricated or not inherently in existence within an organization. In other words, if it’s not authentic to an organization, we can’t promise that we’ll do our best work to create and execute on that idea. A visualization of how we do what we do takes this idea all the way.

Whiteboarding our brand language over lunch

Starting from authenticity is core to Fathom, but we wanted to clarify how to best say this. Are we promising that we will uncover “the truth” about an organization? Yikes. That phrase sounds scary and dangerous to deliver on.

The exercise with the team at Friday Lunch was to tell us what they differently between: “what’s true” vs. “the truth”

Immediately, the team responded with the distinction that Bruce and I clearly see. Some of their responses can be seen in the photo of our whiteboard. Asking “what’s true” is vastly different from stating “the truth.” The former feels like the start of something — uncovering what is true to an organization can become today’s source material for tomorrow’s opportunities. The latter, “the truth,” feels like it’s the end of the road — if it’s already the truth, than it’s not something to explore, rather, it’s gospel, and not an invitation for something new.

Validation received.

I share this exercise for communicators and marketers out there who question how their language is interpreted. What led to the team exercise was Bruce and I noticing that, in casual conversation within Fathom, “truth” was becoming synonymous with “true.” We saw a danger zone ahead and a snowball effect of language getting away from its core meaning if we did not stop and clarify its interpretation. So, while it may seem like semantics to clarify language, if you have that weird gut sense that there is something not right with what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, stop everything and invite others into what you see.

Even better: ask customers how they interpret what you say. Language builds perception and expectation, which leads to very, very good experiences or very, very bad ones.


Each Friday, the Fathom crew comes together at 12:15 to eat lunch, talk about the week and discuss a topic of interest. Since what happens at Fathom doesn’t have to stay at Fathom (well, mostly), we use our blog to share the conversations that we hope will interest you too.

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Posted by: Suzi Craig
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