Charli headshot June 2024

The next chapter at The Writer: Charli Nordone appointed as CEO

From copywriter to CEO, Charli Nordone is an icon at The Writer.

With 19 years' experience in brand language, she’s worked with some of the biggest global brands including Unilever, American Express, Cisco, HSBC and many she can’t mention.

We sat down with Charli to ask what advice she has for brands, now and in the future. And a little on what she hopes her future might hold.

Let’s start with three quick-fire questions.

1. What wakes you up in the morning?

The new products we're developing. The change we create for clients. The people I work with. Although the most accurate answer would toddler.

2. What keeps you up at night?

How I can show brands that their language is their secret weapon. Their secret sauce. The thing that, given even a small amount of attention, can bring them insane results.

3. What do you wish all your clients knew?

See #2

The Writer works with global, Fortune 500 brands. What advice would you give to companies that need to communicate across borders and speak to lots of different audiences?

I think it’s less about crossing geographical borders. It’s more about the accessibility of language generally. Is your writing easy to understand for the broadest audience possible?

It’s easy to underestimate how transformative accessible language is. You want to attract talent, retain people, sell more, save money, save time, win fans…getting to a baseline of good writing is the key.

Any organisation that has a responsibility to communicate clearly with customers, clients and employees should be taking action to up their language game.

So everyone then?


We’ve often talked to clients about using language to create ‘culture change by stealth’. Which is true, it does. But I think we can be loud and proud about finding the writing that’s doing a brand and business a disservice, fixing it, and putting a figure on the impact we’ve made.

We’ve saved HSBC £1.4m after rewriting 150 pieces of customer comms. For another client, we rewrote one letter and increased the response rate by 800%. We got Cisco +150% more click throughs on their website overnight.

In our ten biggest clients there are about 1.5m people. The average person spends 9 hrs a week writing emails alone (according to a study by Slack). That’s 13.5m hours a week. If we helped just 5% of those people save just 5 mins a day, we’re talking 7+ years’ worth of writing time saved every week.

How would you do that?

Training. Training your teams to write is an absolute no-brainer. It’s good for business. And writing is a life skill that massively benefits the individual, in and out of work. Plus, it’s the thing that’ll help make accessible writing the norm.

And what about things at a brand level?

I’ve always believed that language can be the solution to any business problem or any brand aspiration.

I want to show what’s possible when brand language is thought about at the start of brand strategy conversations. So that brand personality, voice and tone is the first thought, never an afterthought.

If a brand wants to do better with employees, customers, and clients, we’ll use language to get them to that baseline of good writing and communicating consistently well.

If they want to be consistent and distinctive, then we’ll do the above, and help them stand out from (and potentially take business from) their competition.

All with what they say and how they say it.

I’ve always believed that language can be the solution to any business problem or any brand aspiration.

Charli Nordone , CEO , The Writer

You deal with values, missions, purpose statements etc. What trends have you noticed?

The process is really important. A big part of what we do is facilitate the conversations that happen before anything makes it to the page.

Without an outside influence in those conversations, it’s tough to get to something good.

Then there’s the small job of working out how to best express the message?

Yes. I’d like to think we save the world from seeing things like We leverage A to optimise B and translate C into actionable Ds, so that E can F.

Of course, we can be brought in to ‘wordsmith’ statements like that. But our clients know to get us in way before anyone starts trying to sum something up in a sentence.

Again, it’s about putting us in the room when the thinking starts. Not when the red pen comes out at the end.

For better or worse, AI is changing our relationship with language. How do you think AI will shape brands and the future for writers?

I’d flip your question round to ask how will writers shape AI for brands?

If a brand is looking at where to start with AI I can think of two places immediately. Get language experts to:

1. Train your customer-facing chatbots to use your brand’s voice, consistently. For such an important touch point, I’m surprised by how bland and off-brand some of the chatbots out there are. It’s the perfect place to reflect the brand’s personality. Charm customers even.

2. Turn your brand guidelines into a digital assistant. Give people an interactive tool where they can quickly get advice and coaching to keep their writing on brand.

Because yes, Gen AI tools can write. But they’re not really writers.

Good writing – whether it’s a policy or something being put out on social media – needs thinking. A writer thinks about the audience and uses their lived experience to use their words to resonate with the reader. They use their creativity to come up with original ideas.

I think if Gen AI is being used as a shortcut for writing, then brands will have to be content with some pretty middle-of-the road content. For now at least.

As for writers, they should have already paired up with AI, treating it as a sounding board, research partner and editor.

Sticking with thinking about the future. Imagine it’s your last day at The Writer - what's the legacy you leave behind?

I’ll have helped brands and businesses realise that good writing changes minds, behaviour and the bottom line. And that bad writing is costing them billions. (Writer and strategist, Josh Bernhoff, estimates that the US spends 6% of total wages on time wasted trying to get meaning out of poorly written material. And puts that cost at almost $400bn a year.)

My colleagues will have shining CVs and portfolios they’re proud of. They’ll have moved up and around within The Writer, and/or will be elsewhere, doing fantastically well for themselves.

We’ll have an industry-leading portfolio of products that can fix any and all business problems with a language solution.

We’ve led the charge on pairing AI with expert writers, to get the best out of both.

My son will be proud of his mum. I didn’t dare dream of being a mum at 39 and CEO at 40. I love that I get to work out what a legacy looks like for each.

Want to know more on Charli's stance on AI? Read Artificial intelligence: Human alchemy

0 min read, posted in Culture, by The Writer, on 17 Jun 2024