Branded Language

Let me run a little test by you. What brand do you think of when I say “magic”? What if I say “always”? Or “crunch”? Did Disney, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg’s spring to mind?

Over the years, some companies have managed to develop powerful branding built on precise and pared word choice. The words are ordinary ones we use every day. By association, they’ve become synonymous with the brand they have come to evoke.

Meanwhile, other companies missed their chance to use language to enhance their brand’s identity. Some brand-builders might have cleverly exploited language but stopped short of achieving ownership. The loss is great because they miss an opportunity for incidental brand-building: branding that happens without the brand having to work at it.

There are several categories of branded language. The first and most obvious is a slogan that becomes synonymous with the brand it represents. Many brands are good at this. Unfortunately, constant changeover of senior marketing staff is often reflected in repeated slogan change. Such inconsistency means lost opportunity for creating a branded language.

Coke’s highly selective use of single words is a good example of the second category. Combined with the corporation’s huge media exposure, such utterances convey a wealth of understood meaning and, ultimately, they signify the brand. Consider words such as “drink,” “refreshing,” and “always.” You easily recognize the brand in them.

Then there’s possibly the most admirable category — brands that turn their entire lexicons into branded languages. Check out the Disney Web site, Disney’s brochures, theme park announcements, and signage. Ninety percent of the time, you’ll recognize the Disney brand in not only the words themselves but also the tone of voice that conveys the Disney identity.

The principles of success are simple. Achieving them is not. Below, steps to creating language for your brand.

First, establish a solid brand personality. A brand’s language is a product of that personality and reinforces it. Only a clearly defined, minutely analyzed personality provides a solid platform from which to develop branded language.

Second, ensure consistency. Something as complex and sophisticated as brand language, with all the nuances and well-honed personality traits, doesn’t occur overnight. It takes years to learn a second language. The same holds true for branded language. Be consistent, focused, and patient.

What are the benefits of creating a brand language? Imagine having such a well-defined brand that people don’t need to see the logo to recognize it. A brand with such well-defined core values, you needn’t mention its name to have an audience identify it. That’s what a branded language can do for a brand. If you achieve the ultimate branded language power, your brand will be conjured up in consumers’ minds even during unrelated conversations if a phrase is mentioned over which your brand has achieved ownership.

Branding is not about how well or how much you plaster a logo all over collateral. It’s about how well you integrate a brand’s soul into every piece of communication.

Join us at the Jupiter ClickZ Advertising Forum in New York City on July 30 and 31.

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