An eye for seeing a visual brand language
A nose to percieve sensory marketing
Identities conveyed by language systems

Strategies for brand story permutations

Brand story permutations is about telling brand stories in many different ways because of the variety of media, platforms and channels they will appear on. The context in which the stories lives is constantly changing, and media users’ attention is fleeting. Your primary brand story should have a constant message, but feel fresh every time.

Verbal identities

It’s the stories and the words they contain that represent the verbal identity of a brand. Language is an important factor to make a brand and organise it so that it communicates the right message. For all media channels and every touchpoint where people interact, a verbal identity shapes the customer’s image of the brand.

“The word has been ‘humiliated’.” – Jacques Ellul

The brand language identifies us through consistent messages and an audible tone of voice. The words that we use and the impression that we make communicates values that attract the audience. If the phrases that the brand uses are not carefully selected and the text not skillfully crafted, the language will end up being a jumble of clichés and jargon.

A strong verbal identity doesn’t use jargon or sound like peers in its industry. The language has a human voice that communicates a personality with distinct values. Dennis Bruce of Mindset Creative Planning tells a story about participants in a survey who found visually different ads to be: “…all the same.” “They all say the same thing,” “The language is the same.” “They all spoke bank-speak.” Apparently consumers emphasize words, and they want the language to have its voice. Some companies get it right. Innocent drinks have an irreverent tone of voice, and Virgin Media is known for its humour. Likewise, Mail Chimp certainly has a tongue in cheek sense with their text.

Visual brand language

Visual brand language is a collection of design elements that have shapes, colour harmonies, materiality, typography, iconography, image policy and structure in common. A visual brand language communicates a company’s values and personality through a defined treatment of all visual elements, thereby creating their design style.

“A brand is a metaphorical story.” – Scott Bedbury

A company’s visual brand language should convey a clear visual identity without using logos. The audience should recognise a brand from the treatment of any visual element. In industries where brand engagement is minimal, a distinct visual language applied to services and products may make your company have an advantage compared to the competition.

Any treatment of visual signals that originates from a company that has a clear visual language and personality will affect how consumers interpret the brand. For example, is the use of colours a tool to establish particular personality and thereby values? Similarly, do shapes, materials (texture) and structures also indicate personality?

Sensory marketing

Branding is about the design of products and services and their marketing. An area of branding that emphasizes the design even more is sensory branding. Our senses don’t work independently. All senses work in unison with the other senses to provide information about the world around us.

When customers experience something with multiple senses, the experience gains symbolic significance and strengthens the brand story. Users have grown sophisticated and expect more from new products. Contemporary producers and providers use technology to establish multi-sensory brand language and thereby brand loyalty.

“Our brains are constantly taking in information that impinges on each of our senses.” – Charles Spence

Product and service providers now embed sounds, haptic feedback and tactile modalities to gain users’ loyalty. Smaller signals from many senses can be combined to create a perception that gives an even stronger experience. The verbal, visual and sensorial aspects of a brand are all strategies to make a brand story live. Combining the three modalities make for an even stronger brand experience.
Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg

Christian Leborg is a visual communicator and branding consultant. He specialises in building brand strategies and brand identities. Christian has worked with several specializations within visual communication as well as teaching and being an author. Christian now works on his third stint as an entrepreneur.