While many businesses have woken up to the need to align the language in their marketing comms with their broader brand DNA, they often fail to fully integrate that language into their broader operations.
How do we recognise a brand? What do consumers see, and how different is that from the ways brands are structured?
The language of a brand is really decided by two things: where you are looking to position your brand in the marketplace; and the personality that you choose to adopt.
Disclaimers are everywhere. From the websites we visit to the products we buy and the ads we watch, the terms under which consumers read and receive are carefully wrapped in legal bubble-wrap to protect brands from liability. In an age of transparency, such disclosures seem prudent and very much in keeping with the demands of today. You know where you stand. The terms for what you are getting are laid out in explicit detail. Or are they?
What have you got to say for yourself? How and when should a brand take a stand? And if you do, should you go hard or go soft? Talking is a critical part of brand behaviour.
Marketers are under enormous pressure to get cut-through. Thing is – where’s the cut off point? How do you decide whether the claims you’re making are justified and how do you know you have pushed the boat out too far? Putting aside the legal considerations (not my space), here are four simple ways to filter what you should and shouldn’t say:
In a market filled with possibilities, there is power and focus in constraint. I pressed this point home recently in a discussion on why brands can’t just continue to add to their visual language. The argument I was getting – we need an extended palette to show the diversity of what we do and to prevent our brand looking monochromatic. My view – that adding layer upon layer of visual language to a brand doesn’t free up anything. On the contrary, it adds complexity that make no sense to buyers and that end up looking confused in the shopping aisle.
At a time when communication is increasingly hailed as shorter and more visual, the way brands choose and use language (the verbal brand) continues to hugely influence a plethora of channels, from social media to search engines to advertising, public relations, website content, direct marketing and more.
1. Promote a refreshing viewpoint. 2. Start a different conversation. 3. Shift away from the standard imagery of the industry.
Language is one of the most important definers of any organisational culture. The language you choose, the language you don’t choose and the language you choose to replace are a reflection, and in some senses, a definition of your priorities. As the American writer Rita Mae Brown once observed, “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”