Business communication has gone from the broadcasting of messages on TV, radio, placards and papers to an Internet-dominated strategy. Internet spreads images and information as no media before.
In a “normal” communication strategy, TV and placards were used to “launch a message”, radio to “increase the popularity of the name thanks to its high frequencies”, and papers to “debate”.
TV and placards were the reign of creativity. Commercials were amazing and valued at the Advertising Festival in Cannes, while placards were awarded with national contests, and these were considered the highest achievements for graphic designers and communicators.
In Switzerland, radio has never occupied a central role in the communication strategies, because of the limits in the broadcasting, the small audiences due to the three languages spoken in the Country and the strength of public radio where no ads are allowed. In the main European markets and in the United States radio has always had a central role thanks to the very wide audiences (same language, stable frequencies).
Newspapers have changed, we know it. Huge debates on the role of this evolving tool of culture and communication are taking place. If the issue of a newspaper had always been perceived as the occasion to grab the newest events of the Country and of the entire world, today it’s not like that anymore. If the Friday paper was the occasion to read stories taken place during the week, that has changed. Traditional magazines (paper) report certain information, but all latest news is reported live on the information websites, often owned by the same publisher of the paper.
News has always been “the substance” of information media. Advertising is the system that sustains them. Sometimes the two of them have flirted one with the other, the editorial part often being the weak one. When publishers have defended (and still do) their journalists, preventing advertisers from muscling in, great newspapers were born. Credible and influential papers. This newspaper is a good example, even if it is clear that the publisher is at the same time the advertiser.
The statement “Internet has no masters” is only partially true. In truth, Internet is a huge pot where everyone expresses an opinion and only few are listened to and read. Think about the websites that you consult daily: 3, 5, 10? If you exceed the number of 10 I’d start getting worried about it.
There are several information websites in Ticino. Two of them are the leaders and, which together sum half of the page views by local users searching for information.
The average time spent on these news websites is between 30 seconds and one minute and a half.
Probably, the frequency of comebacks on them is very high. Internet is nowadays the main channel through which opinions about current news are formed. We’ll speak about more structured opinions another time.
Internet is read (a little) and viewed a lot. Captivating pictures, well written captions, images and short, structured texts win. No limits to creativity in the writing of an article: images within the text, links to other articles, videos that complete the news, readers are even asked to comment, becoming themselves journalistic contributors. Therefore, an editorial on the web is a place where many people stop for a few minutes, and this – for advertising – is a gold mine pro tempore.
The graphical treatment of texts on the Internet has gone through some evolutions. And not all of them respecting traditional rules. Sometimes you will read everything in CAPITOL LETTERS, or some coloured texts and underlined or bold words in order to emphasize certain paragraphs or names.
Here we are. The names. Nowadays, the names of the products are “strange”. Besides “containing a meaning”, they attract the sight. Have you ever noticed it? “iPad”, with lowercase “i” (in general, the I of a name is capital), P capital (why?) and short name (a part from Ugo and few others, names are generally quite long: Giovanna, Pietro, Stefano). And what about these strange names when they are at the beginning of a sentence? A real dilemma, the solution of which seems to be starting the sentence with lowercase or twisting the sentence.
In order to gain more visibility, businesses have always shortened the length of their names, and so International Business Machine has become IBM (conquering capital letters in the acronym, which is by the way incorrect as it should be Ibm, first capitol and then lowercase). And again: Federal Express becomes FEDEX, with the versions FE-DEX, FedEx or the more correct Fedex. Fedex is in good company too: PayPal, BlackBerry, MasterCard.
Some of the strongest names have conquered the use of nicknames. Everyone knows that a nickname means confidentiality, friendship, closeness. Mr. Raffaello is the professor, Lello is the friend at the bar. In the same way, Kawasaki and Harley Davidson were the original brands, Kava and Harley the names used by their admirers.
Let’s take another step further: eBay, iPod, iTunes have achieved two important goals: the first one is the use of “i” (and “e”) as lowercase at the beginning of the word, and the second is the correct pronunciation of “i” as in English (“i”, and not “e” as in eBay).
We could even open a chapter on the confusion of business denominations. Starting from the first clamorous case which is “Yamaha”, a company, a motorbike, a piano and many more consumer goods, to Wal-Mart (company) and Walmart (supermarkets owned by Wal-Mart, object of a recent rebranding). And again Fondiaria-Sai, owner of the insurance companies Sai and Fondiaria that work on the market as Fondiaria, Sai, Milano Assicurazioni and a number of other businesses (still for a short while as the group is being dismembered).
Are you thinking if there are rules or certainties in such a matter? I believe no, but we certainly know that this creative use of the language is spreading. By now we have iPiad (Trattoria Romagnola), waiting for iMario and GianFel to come.

by Mirko Nesurini, CEO GWH Swiss SA

Read the published version in Italian here