Meet a Member – Marianne Powell

This month, we’ve chosen a member at random from those who’ve recently joined or rejoined 26. So, meet Marianne. She’s been lured back by 26 Trees, and writes everything from tone of voice for the likes of the Post Office, to full-length plays.  

We’ll be meeting a new 26 member each month. If you’d like to feature, or nominate another member, drop me a line at Don’t be shy.

Tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and what do you do?

Hello, I’m Marianne and I’m from York. I feel like a contestant on Blind Date. (Old person reference.) I run Ideas et Cetera – an agency that helps organisations find their voice, tell their story and stay inspired.

Before that, I worked in all kinds of writing roles for 14 years: from features writer for a walking magazine, to media and comms person for a human rights organisation. Most recently I was working for a brand language agency, creating tone of voice for Post Office, Prudential (and many other companies that don’t start with P). 

I’m a writer who’s interested in the people bit of writing: how do you get people to think differently about the words they use? How do you get an organisation to change by looking at its tone? And how can telling stories transform businesses and individuals alike? That’s why I’m also training to be a psychotherapist.

Where did your love of words come from?

I was one of those kids who was always reading a book – I’d walk down the street reading, if I could. I once took out 3 books from the library and read them all in a day. And I’ve always been interested in what people are saying versus what they mean. That’s probably why I also started writing plays – I love a bit of subtext.

What made you join 26? And how long have you been a member?

I was and then I wasn’t and now I am again. The trees project lured me back in. I love trees.

Have you been involved in any 26 projects?

I did a lovely project connecting Nick Drake songs to stations way back when.

What’s your ideal scenario for writing? (A coffee shop? Quiet retreat? With or without music? What do you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind?)

Loads of coffee. Big bits of paper on a wall. Much gesticulation. (for the ideas bit.)

Nice music and a light airy space for the writing it all up bit. My co-working space in Forest Hill just about fits the bill.

What are you working on at the moment?

Training and consultancy for a regulator.

Helping a big bank work out how to talk to its business customers.

And pondering the nature of happiness for a Danish beauty brand. (No, really).

Could you tell us about a piece of writing you’re particularly proud of?

At work: I once wrote a brand positioning statement for an energy company that made the client cry (in a good way).

Not at work: I wrote a full-length play and put it on in Budapest, which was tremendous fun.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I’ve been writing plays for the last 10 years and I’ve found it helpful to have a creative practice outside work.

  • Marianne Powell and Sophie Gordon

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