In the recent film about iconic actor Marlon Brando, ‘Listen to Me Marlon’, there is a short sequence in which he talks about standing out from the crowd by being authentic and going beyond the cliché. It’s about his approach to the craft of acting but his words can be read as an analogy for any form of communication...
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A recent white paper by Tom Sepanski in The Hub Magazine explores how a brand's choice of words is an important element in how it is perceived.
People are consuming brandspeak on more platforms than ever before. Today’s brands must produce words not only for print, radio, and television, but also for websites, social media, apps, YouTube videos, banner ads, and more. Every word attached to a brand - whether it’s a product name, a strategic message or a tweet - is part of its identity and contributes to the customer's perception of the brand.
Brands must have a strong sense of self to differentiate themselves from their competitors and give their audiences something authentic to relate to - a sense of humanity. This requires an investment of time, resources and budget but it’s an investment brands need to make as the rules of engagement with audiences continue to evolve. The rise of social media has magnified the damaging effects of the wrong word in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is even a popular Twitter account that reports on 'companies speaking like teenagers', @BrandsSayingBae. Consider Toshiba's jarring tone when it tweets things such as: Twerk as you work!. Or IHOP's tweet: Pancakes. Errybody got time fo' dat. This kind of cringeworthy disconnect is a frequent and visible blunder for brands. A brand needs to know who it is and the role it plays in people’s lives, and then it needs to make the verbal choices that are true to that persona.