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The Importance of Brand Language in 2024 (With Examples)

Have you ever noticed how certain companies seem to have a way with words? Their marketing materials and social media posts resonate with you, leaving a clear impression of their brand. That’s the power of brand language at play.

Brand language is more than just catchy slogans or product descriptions. It’s the entire conversation a brand has with its audience. 

However, crafting a strong brand voice goes beyond using brand intelligence tools and analysis. It requires a deep understanding of your brand’s values and personality.

There are many techniques and strategies for brand language. Some are more obvious than others, but let’s start with the basics.

Developing your brand language

Developing your brand is about understanding your core identity and expressing it in a way that connects with your target audience. 

Define your audience

Every brand needs to ask itself this question to help define its brand voice. After all, without your audience, you don’t have a brand identity.

Let’s go back to when we talked about the different techniques and strategies tied to brand identity. For the sake of finding your audience, there are a few strategies that have stood the test of time and remained fan favorites.

Let’s discuss three of the most widely used:

1. User personas

Otherwise known as buyer personas, creating user personas has been a go-to method for many brands when it comes to understanding who is using their products or services. This process typically goes a little beyond the average chatbot.

Creating these personas involves asking users a series of questions via surveys and interviews and finding patterns in their answers. Once you have completed enough interviews and surveys, you can begin to create personas to understand your audience better.

It’s not overly complicated, nor does it require any special skills. However, depending on the number of people in your audience, it can take quite a while. It helps tremendously to have a few analytics tools handy during this period.

2. Communicate with customers

Possibly one of the most effective and straightforward ways brands understand their audiences is just by talking to them. That’s all there is to it. These conversations can manifest in a variety of different ways, but quick emails, phone calls, or face-to-face interactions have always been the most effective ways to get to know your audience.

Listening to your customers has benefits. Your customers, better than anyone, know how you can improve your brand. If anything, this is a great practice to help improve your customer relations. Everyone likes a brand that’s involved.

The whole point of understanding your audience is to understand their behaviors. Understanding what makes them tick when they’re buying from your brand means that you can focus your efforts on marketing your brand identity based on those behaviors.

It’s not overly complicated, but this sort of research can help any brand define its voice.

3. Read customer reviews

80% of 18 to 34-year-olds have written reviews, proving that customers are talking about you  — whether you’re listening or not.  

Read reviews to understand what customers want from your brand. You’ll see where you are providing the most value and understand how your product or service is being used.

In addition, reviews provide content from the mouths of your customers you can repurpose and use in your marketing materials, ensuring it is, without a doubt, a voice with relevance.

If you’re a B2B software or service provider, create your free profile and start connecting with customers now.

Communicate your brand identity

It’s fairly obvious that in order to understand your brand language, you have to understand what your brand stands for. Each brand on the market today has (or should have) a specific image it wants to portray.

So, now that you’ve established who your audience is, there are important questions you have to ask yourself to define brand voice further:

1. What’s your brand’s culture?

Yes, even brands have cultures. Brand language and culture are similar, as they both help define a brand. But culture takes a more direct approach.

Think of it this way: Brand culture is a brand’s DNA, and brand language is how the brand organizes itself. Brand language represents the vibes that the brand puts out into the world—it’s the brand tone.

You can see that these two have a lot to do with each other. Defining your brand language means first defining your brand culture. How do we do that?

First, you have to define your brand values, people, and purpose. Find out what your brand stands for. Then, it’s just a matter of displaying that for everyone to see. Make these values clear, and your culture will be clear too.

2. What’s your brand’s mission?

This question ties in with the one above, but it’s extremely important to the brand language by itself, so it gets a spot of its own.

Every brand, regardless of industry, has to have a mission. Whether it’s to provide quality shoes or educate people on the importance of green energy, you have to have one. Highlighting this mission plays a key role in defining your brand language.

Now that we’ve discussed the two most important questions any brand can ever ask itself, let’s discuss what we should do with this newly found information.

Creating a visual brand language

You know your culture and your audience. It’s time to channel that into a meaningful and visual brand language.

Visual brand language is the silent counterpart of brand language. It uses visual elements to communicate a company’s identity and message. It’s a set of design choices that work together to create a recognizable and consistent look and feel for a brand.

The easiest way to approach this is to consider how people would perceive your language if it wasn’t paired with your brand’s logo or name. How do you think they’d receive it? The goal is to create a language that customers recognize as yours.

Visual brand language examples

Here are some examples of visual brand language:

  • Color palette: A company that sells organic baby food may incorporate earth tones like light green, sky blue, and beige. This palette evokes feelings of nature, purity, and safety, aligning with the brand’s focus on organic ingredients and baby care.
  • Imagery: A company specializing in extreme sports apparel might use photographs of athletes scaling mountains, kayaking rapids, and pushing their limits. These action-packed images convey a sense of adventure, adrenaline, and pushing boundaries, reflecting the brand’s target audience and product use.
  • Illustration style: A brand selling whimsical greeting cards might utilize hand-drawn illustrations with bold outlines, playful patterns, and vibrant colors. This style injects personality, joy, and a touch of impulse, mirroring the lighthearted nature of their greeting cards.
  • Typography: A company offering luxury watches might choose a classic serif font with elegant curves and flourishes. This typography choice signifies sophistication, tradition, and timeless quality, aligning with the high-end nature of their product.
  • Mascots or icons: A brand selling cleaning supplies might have a friendly cartoon mascot in the shape of a sparkling droplet or a shining sponge. This mascot adds a touch of personality and memorability, making the brand more relatable and approachable.

The three-word technique

Your brand’s visual language should be as unique as the brand itself and, therefore, easily recognized. A popular technique for creating brand language guidelines is to choose three words that best describe your brand.

In this case, let’s use the following words:

  • Trustworthy
  • Persistent
  • Passionate

Next, we’re going to throw them into a columned chart and work out some more details:

Characteristics

Description

Do

Don’t

Trustworthy

We’ve gained the trust of every client we’ve served with our quality and professionalism.

Give clients a reason to trust us.

Show them what we’re made of and that we’re worth trusting.

Abandon that trust.

Give them any reason not to trust us.

Persistent

We’re very persistent in achieving our goals. We don’t let any obstacle stop us.

Use our persistence always to give the client what they’re after.

Use our persistence to help us climb over any obstacle we face.

Annoy our clients with our persistence.

Let our persistence blind us from bad decisions.

Passionate

We work hard at our jobs because we love what we do.

Express that passion in our work.

Strive to better ourselves constantly.

Let that passion wash out.

Be passive with your tone of voice.

Now that you have your words, you can begin to structure your brand language guidelines based on what you believe best describes your brand.

With a chart like this, you’ve basically given yourself a roadmap, just in case anyone gets lost along the way.

Remember that these words should be agreed upon as the best words to describe your brand. They will help define your brand language, so it’s important that they’re accurate.

Brand language guidelines and tips

How do you work on your brand language? To be honest, it might take some trial and error. Brand language is often something that’s developed over time. That being said, you should take the proper steps to make sure you’re prepared.

Remember, your brand language is how you present your brand. This most often manifests itself in the form of online content.

Content marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies, so it’s important that you try your best to nail it. Again, this will most likely develop over time. Some people have a knack for it, but practice makes perfect.

If you search online for copywriting tips, you’ll find a lot of generic tips. Most of them end up giving one conclusion: practice a lot. To streamline this whole practice phase and make it easier for you, here are some of the most helpful brand language guidelines that I’ve come across that actually help:

Write on a variety of topics

Nothing really tests your skills like writing about things you’re unfamiliar with. This is a very helpful method for developing a brand language. Trying to carry the same tone and language over multiple different topics isn’t easy, but it’ll help you hone in on your brand language.

Put the audience first

Is your content easy to read? Does it register with the target audience? Does it properly portray your brand language and culture? These are all questions you have to ask yourself.

While you want to ensure your brand is represented, you also have to consider the reader. Your content can perfectly represent your brand, but if it doesn’t make sense to the reader, then there’s no point.

Format matters

One of the best tips I’ve ever received in content marketing is to discard everything you learned in high school and college while writing.

In school, we’re taught to write very specifically. Although our writing used slightly different language, it looked mostly the same. This becomes a problem in content marketing, where the whole idea behind establishing a brand language is to be different.

So, how do we do that? Again, think of the readers. We’re not talking about some essay that you have to write for a grade. We’re talking about a piece of content that people not only want to read but specifically search after to do so.

Keep it short and sweet, and make sure the reader enjoys it and takes something away from the reading.

Be a perfectionist

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Nobody likes a perfectionist”? Well, in some cases, that may be true, but this isn’t one of those cases.

Be picky! Read your content over and over again to make sure that it’s perfect.

You’ll notice that as you venture farther and farther into these practices, you’ll start to develop your own technique. This is a good thing, as you’re already starting to branch out and create your own brand language.

Be open to change

Change isn’t a word that many people like to hear, but it’s an important one when developing a brand language.

Unfortunately, change is inevitable. You will absolutely need to be open to changing your brand language.

The idea is to create a brand language that portrays your brand, sits well with your customers, and helps customers—new and returning—identify your brand easily. If your language isn’t accomplishing all of those things, it’s time to change it up a little.

As we all know, change isn’t always easy, but it is possible. There will be obstacles every step of the way, but it’s how you overcome those obstacles that matter.

Most companies call this rebranding, and it usually involves much more than a simple change in tone. It involves new strategies, identities, and goals. It’s not always a success story, either.

TIP: If you think you might need some professional help building the perfect brand language, check out the best branding agencies on the market!

Brand language examples

There are quite a few good examples of brand language success. Most of the time, it just takes a single phrase or even a simple word to make us think of a brand instantly.

Here are a few brands that are doing it right:

1. BMW

BMW’s visual brand language is one of the most recognizable in the automotive world. Regardless of social status, professional training, or whether one is a fan of the brand or not, people recognize BMW cars not only by the logos but by specific design elements that made history.

A small glimpse of one of the brand’s cars is often all it takes for someone to recognize one of its creations, and it has much to do with its visual brand language.

Source: BMW

If you take a look at any BMW, modern or not, you’ll notice many design cues that it has implemented over the years. A good example would be the front grills on the cars—they are part of the brand identity, elements easily recognizable by everybody.

Another really good example of BMW’s brand visual language is its famous M stripes. These colors, regardless of whether or not they’re on a BMW, are almost instantly seen as the BMW M series.

The point is BMW is very aware of what makes a BMW a BMW. It has developed its brand strategy over the years and knows how to execute it perfectly. It will always be a matter of quality, reliability, a lot of viability, and trust among BMW car owners. Its marketing strategy, however, goes way beyond these technical details and helped build a brand that is almost iconic.

2. Groove

Groove is a great example of how brand language changes over time. As its user base increased, so did the need for a change in brand strategy.

The brand’s mission was to make its user experience as clean as possible but still maintain that “groovy” feeling.

Groove did this brand identity revamp in the right way: by taking user feedback. Every feature, every design, and every single aspect of the new identity was based on what the users wanted. Needless to say, it has worked out quite well for the brand, as its feedback now is incredible.

groove-logo-brand-assetSource: Groove

What did Groove change? To put it simply, everything. To start, it redesigned its most important visual asset: the company logo. The old rainbow was ditched and replaced with a simple smiley “G” logo.

Other than that, it basically rebuilt every branded asset from the ground up. It put together a style guide applicable across all its apps and websites, applying a new, modern, and clean look to the brand, which led to a new and improved user experience. The groovy feeling, however, was successfully maintained, as the new designs featured playful elements, elegant new fonts, and fresh colors.

All the elements were designed and placed according to a branded approach to efficiency and user experience. Its offer has always included easy-to-use products, but now, through rebranding and redesign, it has also managed to transmit this information visually.

3. Whirlpool

Whirlpool owns roughly 28 sub-brands worldwide. Each one promotes products with strikingly similar designs, but it wasn’t always that way.

As we know it now, Whirlpool is probably the biggest supplier of household appliances. It and its sub-brands, like KitchenAid, make just about any appliance you could think of – and probably some that you can’t.

whirlpool-kitchenaid-design-offeringsSource: Whirlpool

Back in the 1990s, Whirlpool conducted research that proved the lack of brand loyalty. In fact, two-thirds of the customers who entered a store looking for a new appliance had no idea what brand they were looking for.

Fast-forward a little bit, and Whirlpool decided to bring designer Chuck Jones on board as chief designer. Together, with the help of design teams all over the world, they created Whirlpool’s brand visual language that we recognize today. They also created a simple brand language style guide to keep the brand on track.

Using a unique design template, Whirlpool unified its brand tone, and its product sales have never been higher.

4. Geico

How much can you save with Geico? How long does it take? Exactly. In your head, you just answered those questions flawlessly.

Geico has done an amazing job at maintaining its culture and language for years. Whether it’s the brand’s catchphrase or the British gecko, it’s instantly recognizable.

Geico-gecko-branding-designSource: Geico

Its brand strategy is simple: familiarize people with the brand by using a funny gecko. It’s a character that we’ve all grown to know and love – even if it is the mascot for an insurance commercial.

Geico took something so simple and mediocre and turned it into a super famous brand, all by including a tiny gecko in the brand language style guide.

This is a great approach toward marketing and advertising, as the most simple designs and elements are the easiest to remember, adopt, and associate with a company. A complicated design, on the other hand, would have been less effective.

5. Disney

Another great example of a brand that has mastered brand language is Disney.

Disney has quickly won its way into the hearts and minds of just about everyone because of the image that it has put out.

Disney is known for its customer service in its amusement parks and the heartfelt stories it tells in its movies.

disney-mickey-mouse-brandingSource: Disney

You see, it’s all calculated based on its brand language. Everyone sees Disney as the happiest place on Earth because the brand has developed its brand language perfectly.

It has always been associated with a positive attitude, happiness, and success. All its elements, beloved characters, and stories contribute to this positive image, and we all know how important such an image association is in customers’ minds. Disney knew it as well. Hence, its world-renowned success.

Why brand language is so important

The most important detail to take away from this is to make your brand’s voice heard. Make it unique and make it stand for something.

Next time you send a newsletter, update content, run an ad, produce a product, or provide a service, think about the message you’re sending. If that message doesn’t scream your brand’s language, it’s time to start developing a new tone of voice.

Stay on top of the latest branding statistics to gain a competitive edge in your domain. 


This article was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with new information.