The power of verbal identity.

Recently on a Friday afternoon, I sat with our CEO Leslie Phinney in her office and we had an inspiring conversation about trust and authenticity that has stuck with me. We began by talking about the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed that the rise of disinformation and ambivalence about who or what we can believe is leading to deeper concerns about trust. In the United States, trust in media and government has been dramatically eroding since 2017. The silver lining is that trust in NGOs, businesses, education, and in other expert voices has steadily been increasing. These organizations can play a critical role in reinforcing or reestablishing trust and addressing the things people care most about.

Leslie noted that people are searching for something authentic to believe in, something that inspires solidarity, safety, community, and purpose. We began to talk about how so much of our work is a means to that end. One of the most powerful ways an organization instills trust is authenticity. We work with our clients to help bring out the core essence of their business or brand—the singular idea that drives their story. If you’ve worked with us, you know the essence—and the story behind it—is the cornerstone of our approach. It defines your organization. It differentiates. It lets people know what you stand for and stand behind. It’s the story about what anyone becomes part of when they join you.

Since I landed at Phinney Bischoff in January, I’ve been working with Leslie and our strategy team to build out our verbal identity practice. We often hear from clients or potential clients that they’re struggling to tell their story in ways that are resonant, memorable, or authentic. Verbal identity development is one path a brand can take to validate its authenticity and create connection and trust. We activate language, storytelling and conversation to help brands connect emotionally, build trust, and inspire audiences—both internal and external—to not just create action, but fidelity. We do this by tapping the brand’s underlying story to contribute to how people feel about and experience a brand.

People want to become part of something meaningful. A strong verbal identity gives you the ability to tell your story with clarity and to bring your audiences together around a shared purpose and point of view. Even more importantly, it provides a genuine expression of your culture and character—allowing you to develop and sustain a brand that is emotionally resonant and authentic. That, in turn, inspires lasting trust. And we could use much more of that now.

To learn more about our verbal identity practice, or how verbal identity can provide clarity and instill trust, contact