Writing Feedback February 11, 2020

"I" vs "We"

Bret @spiralhead

My marketing is getting a big confused mixing "I" with "we". I'm working solo but technically my wife helps with feedback on occasion so using we is not that much of a stretch. Do people have more confidence in your product when you give the perception there is a team of people behind it?

  1. 3

    Here's my rule of thumb:

    If I am writing something that is coming from me, the company, I will use "We".
    If I am writing something that is coming from me, the person (as in 1:1 correspondence), I will use "I".
    If I am on the fence about which one I should use, I will default to "We".

    I like being able to shift from "we" to "I" to add a layer of "This is my personal opinion, as an expert in this subject matter, not as an agent of the business." The fact that your opinion and the opinion of your business happen to be the same rarely gets noticed or considered.

  2. 2

    I think "We" is fine. The way I see it - almost everything I do, including building software etc. always has someone else involved (i.e. I am using a framework built by another developer, or got a graphic designer to create some illustrations for my site etc.), so in effect, it is always a multi person effort.

    If I am posting on a blog or talking to a client via support etc. then I sometimes use I, in the sense of "I think you should do it this way..." etc.

    Seeing as your wife is helping out, I think you can say "We" with a clear conscience! :)

  3. 1

    For me, I'm used to using "we" but been trying to change to "I", because:

    I'm running it solo, no plans to be huge, and want to authentically appear as I am - small. Using "I" feels more relational too. "We" can feel corporate-ish or appearing larger than I am, which is not what I want to project as a biz.

    So it depends on the vibe you want to show your customers. Do they appreciate buying from a indie maker, small-time business (like mom and pop shops?) or do they need to feel the confidence projected by a larger entity?

  4. 1

    I think it depends on what the product is. If you're a B2B company that typically serves other companies or larger customers, they would probably trust you more if you used "we", as it implies that there is a larger team behind the product.

    However, if you're working on a product that targets other indie makers, or if you're producing content (such as through a newsletter), then it might be preferable to use "I", since it seems more personal and relatable.

    I do think it's important to be consistent, though, so pick one and stick with it.

  5. 1

    I'm also guilty of calling myself "we" from time to time 🤷‍♂️ Most of the time its not even on purpose, but sometimes it just feels better in a situation.

    I guess what to call yourself can also depend on the product/market you are in. If you absolutely have to appear like a bigger business it could be hard as "I". With a different audience "I" could even be more likeable. Think of markets where you "fight" against the "big guys".

    If you feel more comfortable with "we" and since your wife is even helping its not even a lie, then go for it.

  6. 1

    As a founder, I wear so many hats, it's always "we" 🤷‍♂️

  7. 1

    The time is coming when the successful expression of "I will, I choose, I do" will be looked at with reverence, but today - "We will, we choose, we do" is the social signal for legitimacy, and the "I" is often looked upon with suspicion and distrust.

    1. 1

      This strikes me as accurate

  8. 1

    Ton of psychology in there.

    I don't think anybody is out there surveying their customers if they are more confident in their service because of which pronoun they used, but definitely curious what other people have to say.

    Personally speaking, I use "we" fairly exclusively in terms of marketing and outbound correspondence, "we launched a new feature" type stuff.

    I'll opt for "I" when it's in the context of owning a problem, like say "I'll be taking care of that today for you" as opposed to "we'll be taking care of that today" just to imply ownership that I'll be the one taking care of business.

    In my experience when things really matter is in terms of quick turn around. I've been asked about the size of my team and when I let them know, they tend to be /impressed/ with the level of service they are getting in a quick fashion because the team is smaller.

    Like yourself, I "wife-source" some things, and I absolutely consider that a "we" type scenario. Just make sure you're properly compensating wifey ;)

    1. 1

      We it is :)