During the time it had taken our group to sup a couple of pints, a random bloke had appeared out of nowhere and got chatting to us. Nothing weird about that. What was weird was that he was calling everyone dude in a strange voice. Repeatedly. Yes, we were obviously snowboarders, and yes the bar was in a ski resort. But why was this guy speaking to us in an odd Bill and Ted voice? It was pre season and I’d been on a short snowboarding course, the group was a mix of instructors and advanced riders looking for technical improvements. I was out my depth, but having fun. No one spoke with a stoner drawl, or said 'rad' every other word. The language was far more about flex, pressures, grip, types of snow, injuries, rotations and fall lines. It was the authentic language of the sport, at least for this group, for this week. There is a turtle in Pixar’s animated classic ‘Finding Nemo’: “The name’s Crush”. He says dude a lot. He is a character, an exaggerated parody for comic effect. I’ve been snowboarding, (surfing’s winter cousin), on and off for 30 years – and I’ve never heard anyone actually speak like Crush. The slow, effected speech,  and stoner affectations, (Surfer Voice™) are in my experience, an invention from outside the world of the sport – that is how people think surfers speak – rather then how they actually speak. (Just like Pirate Voice™, but that’s another story).
So maybe that’s why I baulked a little at the guy in the bar using a weird voice. He was trying to speak to us in the way he thought we all would speak – and it just sounded odd. He didn't need to affect his language, he was actually a very nice fella – he just needed to be himself; most of us are more interested in being pleasant and having a laugh than being tribal. Brand communications however are a little less forgiving than pub communications. A brand's language, especially a specialist performance brand, has to be authentic. Getting this right, especially on a global scale, across multiple categories and territories actually doesn't start with words. It starts with purpose. From purpose comes culture, and from culture comes language.

POST SCRIPT. During the February cold snap a couple of Mancunian Climbers popped over to Kinder Scout to ice climb. The local paper requested their photographs after seeing them on Twitter – and wrote this headline in pure Climber Voice™: 

"The extreme climbers who took advantage of the cold weather to do something SERIOUSLY gnarly"

 Being lucky enough to know one of the climbers he would never describe himself as 'extreme' or any of his climbs 'SERIOUSLY gnarly'. Hmm, Maybe we're being picky, the journalist has to chase clicks – but if this was a brand it would be unforgivable.