A manifesto for a better verbal identity.

  1. Verbal Identity is a distinctive way of expressing a brand’s distinctive strategy.
  2. It starts with understanding how the brand wants to portray the world. To be successful, it depends on knowing how the consumer wants to believe the world is.
  3. A great Verbal Identity stands out, enhances its brand. Just like great packaging. And great photography and typography and great design. But a stand out Verbal Identity is easier to tell other people about. See back of any Innocent Smoothies packet.
  4. A list of six great, friendly, cheeky, aspiring, confidant, simple adjectives isn’t a Verbal Identity. It’s a familiar, hackneyed, witless, vague, domineering and simplistic tone of voice document.
  5. Spielberg said that knowing what his audience is thinking at every moment is the secret of a great film.   It’s the secret of all good writing. Verbal Identity included.
  6. Social Media is conversation. If you don’t like what’s being said about you, change the conversation. A new Verbal Identity leads to a new conversation.
  7. A brand’s audience can be plotted as a pyramid of engagement levels. Different levels, different messages. Good Verbal Identity is the right message at the right level. Success is pushing more people up more layers.
  8. You can start with the inspiration and do the codification at the end. Or you can start with the codification and then work towards inspiration. But whatever you do, both ends of the process have to meet somewhere believable in the middle.
  9. Language is the basis of all thought, even visual thought – Wittgenstein.