The Power of a KISS: Plain Language and Keeping it Simple

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Let’s cut to the chase, nobody wants to look stupid. But the legal sector has an image problem. Over-complicated language? Guilty as charged. As lawyers, but also sometimes, as marketers.

For legal founders looking to market their services effectively, clear communications, which cut through the noise to strike a chord with the intended audience, are essential. We all know the old adage of Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) yet so often we get lost in the technical detail – detail which might seem important to us, but which doesn’t actually mean very much to users of our legal services.

This blog will tackle why plain language is the cornerstone of effective marketing for your law firm or legal business.

What is plain language?

Plain language means using simple and clear words and sentences to communicate. It’s all about making sure that what you say or write is easy for everyone to understand, especially when dealing with complex topics like legal matters. It’s about speaking and writing in a way that’s accessible and clear, so your readers don’t have to struggle to figure out what you mean.

For legal founders, using plain language in marketing is a smart move. It helps potential clients easily understand your content, trust your knowledge, and make good choices about your legal services.

Isn’t this just dumbing down the law?

Plain language isn’t about simplifying the law. It’s about making it understandable. Forget legalese, and think simplicity. Write for your reader, using everyday words, and not for the legal textbook. At its heart, plain language – as we’ll go on to show you here – is about understanding your target audience and writing in a way that they will understand and engage with.

No matter your area of legal expertise, using plain language is about tailoring what you’re saying to the person reading it and using simple words to communicate in a way that they will understand.

Why does plain language matter when it comes to your marketing?

We understand that as legal founders, your journey in the legal sector is a unique one. The challenges you face require smart solutions, and that’s where our Five Steps to Five Star Marketing programme comes into play. One of the key aspects of our programme is the emphasis on plain language, specifically tailored to legal founders. But why?

1. It helps you stand out

In a legal landscape cluttered with complex terminology, plain language stands out as your competitive edge. We recognise that as legal founders, you want your potential clients to feel comfortable and confident when engaging with your legal services. Plain language in your marketing materials ensures that your message is accessible, easily understood, and cuts through the noise.

2. It builds trust

Your potential clients turn to you for legal guidance and expertise, and trust is an essential component of your client relationships. By using plain language in your marketing, you not only show that you “get” their concerns, but you also build trust. They need to know that you’re not just an expert in the legal field but also in clear, accessible communication.

3. Your audience will listen

As a legal founder, you may find yourself wearing multiple hats, including creating your website content and social media posts. Plain language skills are invaluable in this context. When crafting these materials, plain language ensures that your message resonates with a wide audience. Your clients are more likely to engage with content that speaks their language, and our programme guides you in achieving just that.

4. Your audience will understand

Plain language is not about simplifying the law; it’s about making it understandable. Regardless of where your legal expertise lies, plain language ensures that your target audience comprehends your message. This is especially important when your potential clients are making decisions that can have a profound impact on their lives or businesses.

How can I communicate more plainly?

There are three simple things you can start doing today to help clients understand you clearly. They are:

  1. Put major points first. Don’t hide the important stuff. Say it upfront.
  2. Use the active voice. Say “We will handle your case” instead of “Your case will be handled by us.” With the active voice, you’re doing an action. If it is done ‘by’ somebody, it’s the passive voice.
  3. Keep it short. Say what you need to say and then stop talking.

The International Plain Language Federation has developed the Plain Language Standard, which is a set of guidelines from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that helps organisations communicate more clearly and effectively.  While the current rules are just for guidance and don’t officially certify documents, people, groups, or training, the International Plain Language Federation is working on a way to certify them and will share more details as they make progress.

How Five Steps to Five Star Marketing Supports Plain Language:

Our Five Steps to Five Star Marketing programme has been designed to integrate plain language principles into every aspect of your marketing strategy. We understand that as a legal founder, your marketing materials should be a reflection of your commitment to clear and accessible communication.

Our programme includes:

  • A content marketing strategy that puts plain language at the forefront, ensuring that your message is easily understood by your target audience.
  • A tactical plan for delivering content that adheres to plain language principles, making your marketing materials relatable and trustworthy.
  • Instant visibility through exceptional content and social media strategies that resonate with your audience, all in plain language.
  • Comprehensive training, systems, and processes that empower you and your team to effectively navigate the legal marketing landscape with plain language as your guiding principle.

Wrapping it all up…

Navigating a law firm’s website or blog shouldn’t require Google Translate or a session with ChatGPT. Plain language makes you relatable and trustworthy, and that’s what clients are really after. Legal drafting has its place, but when it comes to marketing, clear is the new clever.

At Helen Squared we work with clients to wean them off the legalese and ensure they are saying the right things, to the right people, in the right places. And THAT’S plain language. We’d love to tell you more. Get in touch with Helen Burness or Helen Foord at for an initial chat on our Five Steps to Five Star programme for small businesses in legal.

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