Category Archives: community

Creating a Brand Vocabulary to Build Culture and Community

Unexpectedness and contrast make a brand memorable. They are the attention twins that make your business different. Unless your business offers something unexpected, or is contrasted from your competition, you are unlikely to be noticed by consumers. In fact, you are more likely to be ignored.

Throughout your business, you should seize the opportunity to be unexpected and offer contrast, especially during interactions with customers. The most personal of all brand interactions is conversation. You can harness the power of the attention twins to turn a transaction into a memorable brand experience by creating a unique brand vocabulary.

(Create your own word cloud here: Wordle)

Starbucks changed the way an entire nation drinks coffee, but that’s not all they changed. They changed our vocabulary too. Small, medium and large became tall, grande and venti. Starbucks has added lots of words to our vocabulary: skinny, mocha, macchiato. Do you remember when you never said those words? Now you do speak those words comfortably because Starbucks created their own brand vocabulary.

There are three very important reasons for you to create your own vocabulary.

The Three C’s of Your Brand Experience

Culture – Build a culture for your brand. A way of doing things that is uniquely your business. Words have meaning, and when you use different words, you create a different culture. Each generation has a different vocabulary because each generation has its own culture. Your generation doesn’t use the same vocabulary your parents did, and your children will not use your vocabulary either.

Community – Your unique brand vocabulary also creates a community unique to your and your customers. This vocabulary is not spoken elsewhere nor heard anywhere else. When your customers speak this vocabulary, they begin to form a community bond with you. Remember, above all brands are relationships. Being part of the same community strengthens that relationship.

Contrast – Using the same terms that everyone else uses makes you sound just like everyone else. A unique brand vocabulary is a very powerful way for you to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Those are the reasons. Where do you apply this new vocabulary?

What Vocabulary

Products and Services –  Use different vocabulary words for the stuff you sell. For example: A leadership coach has an assessment tool that tracks your progress through the training. He could call it a “leadership assessment tool.” Instead, Cody Waldroup calls it a “Capacity Meter.”

Systems – Your systems and procedures for dealing with customers. For example: if you own an apartment complex and the only way you tour apartments is to have potential residents give themselves a self-guided tour, you could call it the “self-guided tour.” Instead Eric Brown of Urbane Apartments in suburban Detroit calls it, “Go Solo.

Expressions – For example: a used car lot is out to break the stereotype of the slimy used car salesmen. They could just tell everyone they’re “different” and that “we’re not your typical used car dealer.” Or they could do as Mike Knight Motors did and declare that they’re “Slaying the Used Car Dragons.

Vocabulary Creation

To create your own vocabulary, start with your brand personality. How would your personality talk? Then apply synonyms, metaphors and descriptions to the products, systems and expressions in your business. Have fun and start playing around. Don’t let embarrassment creep in or you will use the same words you’ve always used to sound like everyone else.

It’s not necessary to create an entirely new language. Start with just three new vocabulary words; one each for a product, a system and an expression. As you integrate these new words into your brand conversations, you will become comfortable with them and so will your customers. Eventually, new vocabulary words will naturally occur. Before long you’ll have your own brand culture and community that will contrast you from the competition.

Whew! Now that I’m finished writing this, I think I’ll grab a grande skinny pumpkin spice latte. Guess where I’m going.

What’s your brand’s vocabulary? How can you change it to create a unique brand experience?

This week on The Marketing Spot features a series of articles on Brand Building to Build Your Business.
Part 1: It’s Never Just a Marketing Issue
Part 2: Define Your Brand
Part 3: Taglines: When the Brand Name Doesn’t Promise

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