Deciding which words and phrases best convey a brand's message to the general public is a challenge for most companies.

Though well intended, the wrong word here or there could turn consumers, or potential ones, the other way.

New Minneapolis company Pluralytics, backed by $1.2 million in fresh investment capital, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan websites, social media posts and marketing scripts to determine how well companies are appealing to their customers, then recommends words that would better engage the intended audiences.

Pluralytics launched in March 2020 and is the brainchild of former Public Radio International executives Alisa Miller and Rick Byrne and technologist Morteza Nia. The company already landed some big-name clients, including Twin Cities-based hair salon franchiser Great Clips for its upcoming Brand Voice analytics platform, Richfield-based Best Buy Co. and Nebraska-based Speedway Motors for its ValuesFinder language analysis and optimization platform.

Miller led then Minneapolis-based PRI — which later merged with Boston media company PRX — as CEO for over a decade. Byrne was senior vice president of strategy and business development at PRI, and after the merger, was digital publisher for the new company's international news program.

Miller, who left PRI in 2019, understood the complexities of having to reach broad audiences. She also observed people falling into silos on social media regarding certain topics. On social media, she saw how people would debate the same point of view, but by using different words, opposition ensued.

"They thought they were disagreeing with each other because of how they were talking about achieving the same idea," she said.

Upon researching the intersection of behavioral science and AI, Miller brought in Nia and Byrne. The company is already seeing renewals for its subscription-based platform, and Miller anticipates the company raising more capital from investors next year.

The company's recent seed financing round was led by Austin, Texas-based Ecliptic Capital.

"We're in a values-laden environment and organizations are thinking about purpose and values," Miller said. "It's coinciding with this opportunity for the actual technology to be in a place where we can help with that at scale because of AI."

Marketers understand values play a role in purchasing decisions. And to be more effective, companies are using science instead of gut feelings, Byrne, the company's chief operating officer, said. More than 50% of people consider the values of a company when making a purchasing a decision. For Millennials and the Gen Z generation, that figure is north of 70%, he added.

Pluralytics' software has analyzed millions of words and phrases, which helps the platform scan for patterns and predict how language appeals to a person's values through various age groups and regions across the country, Miller and Byrne said. The software uses models to create scores that show companies how close, or how far away, they are from meeting their priorities. A user can ask the software to optimize its text, meaning the AI suggests changes to deepen the appeal.

Pluralytics is currently U.S. and English focused but the plan is to expand to be multilingual and multiregional. This fall, the company is launching an analytics platform that will help companies determine if their marketing language conveys certain values as well as tones of voice — like "down-to-earth," "uplifting" and "bold" — to measure if they are meeting a custom brand voice benchmark, Miller said.

Though clients are spread across the U.S., being based in Minneapolis is an advantage for her company, Miller said.

"It's a such a great town for marketing and for large corporate players who have all kinds of communications, marketing and advertising needs where our tool could be very helpful to them," she said.