Connect with us


Simplified: Candice Burt & Frances Gordon

Lawyer and communications expert team up to help corporates speak clearly

Juliet Pitman



Candice Burt & Frances Gordon of Through Simplified

Hans Hofmann, painter and teacher, said:“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” It’s a sentiment with which Candice Burt and Frances Gordon would agree. Through Simplified, founded by the pair in early 2005, theyare helping companies to use plain language to communicate with customers and staff more effectively.

“When people first hear the term ‘plain language’ they think it’s about talking down to people, that it’s about sentences like ‘The cat sat on the mat’. But we think of it as a very sophisticated language; it’s all about getting from A to B by the shortest possible route,” explains Burt, a plain language lawyer whose career passion is simplifying traditionally impenetrable legalese so that anyone can understand it. Her legal expertise is matched by Gordon’s experience in corporate communications. Their combined skills enable them to offer a full range of services to simplify all aspects of corporate communication.

Between the company’s two arms of training and simplification strategy, the Simplified team helps organisations to write in a clear, compelling style; draft legal documents in plain language; design information so that it’s easy to read and digest; and train staff to write well.Gordon elaborates on some of the more common writing mistakes evident in business communication: “What we find,especially in South Africa, is that people use big words to sound clever. Behind this lies insecurity, but the danger is always that you use the big word incorrectly.” She continues, “One of the places companies go wrong is that there is often a big gap between what their marketing promises and what their contracts actually state. Only by putting all their communication into plain language can companies hope to close what the financial services guys call a ‘trust gap’.”

By teaching staff how to plan and structure a piece of writing – whether it’s a contract or a monthly statement letter –Simplified hopes to help companies speak to their clients in a clearer, more accessible voice that will ultimately lay the foundation for better customer relationships. Their “going back to basics” approach teaches the building blocks of good writing. And while tips about remaining mindful of your audience and having a clear objective might sound obvious, a cursory glance at most corporate communication proves that these are things the majority of people don’t know.

“Clients who have completed the course feel they have changed theway in which they approach writing,” says Burt, to which Gordon adds, “They recognise that initially it will take them longer to write, but that as they become more practiced, good writing skills will actually save them time because they’ll be writing only what’s needed.”Simplified has created a niche for its services. “There are companies out there that offer writing services, but they either don’t have the legal side or the marketing and business side that we offer, and they don’t approach writing in the holistic way that we do,” says Gordon.

Not only is their service offering unique, but it’s clear that it meets a great need in the market. As Burt points out, legislation such as the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act and the recent National Credit Actrequire corporates to communicate with their customers in plain language. These requirements, combined with consumer activism pressure, have driven companies to realise the importance of communicating in plain language – and to seek help in doing so.

Burt and Gordon retain their edge by keeping their skills and knowledge up to date, regularly attending local and international conferences and participating in plain language forums. They have focused on growing their training division first because it’s easiest to upscale; they are pedantic about employing highly skilled staff, in whom they invest a good deal of training. Simplified’s client list – including Discovery, Liberty Life, RMB, Mutual & Federal, Ernst & Young and Deutsche Bank –speaks for itself. Speaking about the business’s achievements, Burt says, “I think we have been successful because we have remained focused on our core offering. Clients sometimes ask us to help them with branding or putting a manual together but we don’t do that. We’re passionate about what we do and don’t want to dilute our offering.”



  1. Nick_Wright_Editor

    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:24

    Most business documents – even legal documents – would be easier to read if they were edited with the StyleWriter software available as a free trial from

  2. Kiprop Kiprotich

    Mar 7, 2014 at 23:46

    Plain English will save us lots of customer support costs. We share same passion.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



Prev1 of 26


“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

Prev1 of 26

Continue Reading


Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.