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Designing Brand Language
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Designing Brand Language



I gave this talk for @ContentGourmets in Zurich on June 29, 2013. ...

I gave this talk for @ContentGourmets in Zurich on June 29, 2013.

You can find the accompanying Storify here:

Idiolect, Code switching, Languaging, Writing, Publishing.
Thinking like a writer, editor, publisher.
Language is cultural as well as linguistic.
Nurture smart language use.

Most images are by Saul Steinberg.



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Designing Brand Language Designing Brand Language Presentation Transcript

  • Designing Brand Language Elizabeth Marika Henry liz@henrygeneral.com @whereareyouliz www.nuancewords.org Zurich, usually.
  • Natural language is so cool.
  • idiolect Our own ways of speaking and being and navigating the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiolect
  • codeswitching In linguistics, code-switching is switching between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Codeswitching in Sociocultural Linguistics Nilep, 2006. http://www.colorado. edu/ling/CRIL/Volume19_Issue1/paper_NILEP.pdf http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/
  • languaging To communicate by language; to express in language "Designing" with language Languaging, Agency and Collaboration, Swain, 2012. http://lrc.cornell.edu/events/past/2011-2012/papers11/swain.pdf
  • writing Making language visual, packaging it, saving it, storing it. writing system a set of visible or tactile signs used to represent units of language in a systematic way, with the purpose of recording messages which can be retrieved by everyone who knows the language in question and the rules by virtue of which its units are encoded in the writing system. - From the The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writings Systems http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing
  • Publishing the process of production and dissemination of literature, music, or information — the activity of making information available to the general public. In an age of constant communication and instant sharing, we are all publishers. We should be clear with our choice of words, messaging, and communication. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishing
  • Language is abstract. It locks ideas in space and time. History of Communication / Visual communication http://www.citrinitas.com/history_of_viscom/ http://www.atlassian.com/en/communication-through-the-ages-infographic History of Publishing / Sharing http://www.biztechmagazine.com/sites/default/files/tiny-uploads/2012/infographics/sharing- communication-infographic.jpg http://socialmediachimps.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/history-publishing-printing-press- infographic-.jpg
  • We use language all day every day.
  • But before long, it begins to accumulate..
  • Ideas mix. Words get fuzzy. Sentences are repeated. The meaning starts to change. ...Confusion ensues.
  • So: Be conscious of your use of words. Be aware of how you use both casual and formal language
  • Because.. The words you use to describe a business are your business idiolect. Your business words are your brand. They relate back to your reputation.
  • One way to do this -
  • Choose your words carefully. Whittle content down to a bare minimum. Only publish the best of what you've got.
  • Think like a writer. Choose each word. Craft and design each line.
  • Think like an editor. Get to the point. Cut out all the rest.
  • Think like a publisher. Your reputation relies on everything you make public. Choose wisely.
  • So as a writer, editor, & publisher, I need to think about: Brand Language Communication Content Production
  • Think of words as design tools for communication Interrogate the text: What is this text supposed to do? What is it trying to say here? How can it be more clear?
  • Many design agencies or marketing departments think about brand voice or linguistic branding. Many still don't. How do you articulate brand language? How do you manage, control, patrol it? Make sure there is one person in charge.
  • Your words echo your business strategy. You wouldn't outsource your business strategy. Don't outsource your language. Avoid expensive mistakes with good language from the beginning Reach your customers, readers, or users by "Speaking their language" Read: Don't be sloppy or lose control of your words. Know what your words are saying about you. Put one person in charge.
  • Just to be clear: I don't want this job at your company. It's really hard.
  • Linguistic Branding? How to get started. 1. Articulate your brand language Determine your brand voice, style guide, identity. > Customer or Client? "Nuance" or "we"? 2. Decide on messaging, communication strategy. What to say, to whom, using which media channels, when and why? > Do our customers use twitter? should we? 3. Plan content creation and produce original content. How can this be best conveyed, communicated? How do we create the impact we want? > What function does this text serve?
  • Who can and should do this job? Find someone who is internal, has exceptionally good communication skills, understands how things work, and can be authentic and honest about how to best communicate ideas, problems, and sensitive topics. For example: Content Marketer Brand Journalist Technical Communicator Content Strategist Project Manager
  • Take notes from the workflows of content production and publishing industries. Do regular audits. Have an editor on staff who knows how to edit content, not just offer opinions and add commas. Jeffrey Veen's Doing a Content Inventory (Adaptive Path) Kristina Halvorson's The Discipline of Content Strategy (A List Apart) Philip Kotler's The Marketing Audit Comes of Age (MIT-Sloan Management Review, $6.50)
  • Especially because...
  • The new, fast, instantly International, Multinational, Global Company or Website requires Translation Internationalization Localization To speak the customer's language, to connect. Things have changed.
  • Words are abstractions. Consider advertising, poetry, and humor Words can be tricky, easily misconstrued, or taken out of context
  • Words are cultural as well as linguistic. Language captures culture. Use it to design communication to a particular audience.
  • The appropriate phrase The right words A good fit It's about finding the right word for the right situation. About choosing the right abstraction, combination of abstractions to match a cultural situation.
  • A note on "language people" These are: translators, writers, editors, interpreters, content people, technical communicators, marketers... anyone who communicates They enable cross-cultural communication by articulating, rendering one word into another language. From programmer to marketer From parent to child From Arabic to English We all belong to different cultures, we all speak different languages.
  • Finally back to those terms...
  • idiolect languaging codeswitching writing publishing
  • Identify people in your circles who think about language. Language and technology, language and story, language and communication. Give them jobs, hold them to high standards, and pay them well. Encourage everyone around you to be more aware of their language. It's an incredible tool. A design tool, a tool for humans by humans. Hone your language, communication, writing, your brand.
  • Elizabeth Marika Henry liz@henrygeneral.com @whereareyouliz www.nuancewords.org Zurich, usually.