6: Brand language: text

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In advertising and marketing, we tend to think of brands as primarily visual in nature. However, the textual language of brands can be just as powerful, allowing the essence of a brand to remain in the memory long after the visuals have faded from view.


This works in the same way as an ‘earworm’ – a song (often a rubbish one)that gets stuck in your head and refuses to leave. The difference is that in marketing, it’s the good stuff ones that are remembered. These can stay with us for a long time. For example did you know that BMWs ‘ultimate driving machine’ slogan dates back to 1975? The reason why they’re still using it is because:

1) It still resonates with us today
2) It has been constantly reviewed in order to remain credible (or perceived to be so)
3) It is memorable and distinctive

Here are some more:

Dirt is good. (Persil)
We try harder. (Avis)
It is. Are you? (The Independent)
Just do it. (Nike)
Vorsprung durch technik. (Audi)
Impossible is Nothing (Adidas)

What do all of the examples have in common? They’re all relatively short phrases. They are easy to say (perhaps with the exception of Audi) and are memorable. Most importantly, they harness the power of words to describe unique attitudes to the products or services being promoted, helping the companies to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Product and service descriptions

In the development of a distinctive brand language, catchy slogans and taglines are just one part of the story. Every headline and description that goes into creating a company’s marketing collateral should support its market positioning.

The following is marketing copy for a book on creative thinking by Paul Arden, former Saatchi & Saatchi executive creative director:

WHATEVER YOU THINK, THINK THE OPPOSITE is a daring attack on the way we look at our work and our world. Instead of the usual boring advice, Paul Arden offers daring quips, aphorisms and paradoxes – all seeking to revise what we hold as our ‘common sense’… it will give you the confidence to take bigger risks and enjoy your work more than you can imagine.

How do most people choose books? We stand in bookstores reading the descriptive copy. It’s the publishers best chance of grabbing and holding our attention and of influencing the buying decision. The above example would be enough to get me interested, perhaps enough to lead me to the till and part with some money.

What about copywriting in your business? The bottom line is: it’s all important. From your logo strapline, to your marketing brochure, to the tape that seals your product packaging, you should be using creative copywriting to tell your audiences what makes you special.

For some useful tips on the basics of copywriting, try the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Top 5 tips.