The Verbal Identity of the kiwi fruit

The kiwi fruit’s narrative


Cut a kiwi fruit down the middle and it’s got those little black pips and that super sweet juice oozing out. It’s kiwi all the way through.
Cut an apple in half and you get pale, tart flesh. Of course you do.

Now, if I open a PG Wodehouse book and a John Le Carré anywhere at random, this is what I get [I promise this is at random]:

“When I had seen him last he had been a rather sloppy old gentleman – coming down to lunch, I remember, in carpet slippers and a velvet smoking-jacket; whereas now dapper simply wasn’t the word. He absolutely gleamed in the sunlight in a silk hat, morning coat, lavender spats and sponge-bag trousers, as now worn. Dressy to a degree.
‘Oh, hallo!’ I said. ‘Going strong?’”

Or this:

“ ‘Are you Leamas?’ He was a small plump man. He spoke English.
‘What’s your British national identity number?’
‘PRT stroke L 58003 stroke one.’
‘Where did you spend VJ night?’
‘At Leiden in Holland in my father’s workshop, with some Dutch friends.’
‘Let’s go for a walk, Mr Leamas. You won’t need your macintosh. Take it off and leave it on the ground where you are standing. My friends will look after it.’ ”

I don’t need to tell you which is which. And that’s the point of Verbal Identity.

A good verbal identity captures the driving narrative for a brand:  a tension between the world as it is and the world as the brand wants it to be.

It also depends on knowing how the consumer could be persuaded to want the world to be (that’s the bit that Discourse Analysis reveals).

Next time you see a couple of lines of copy or a block of text, cut it down the middle and see if it reveals a deep understanding of the consumer’s current view of the world. Does it shout out how the brand will change that world?

Or is a list of product points. Written in short sentences. Because the writer thinks, that’s how you write. Copy.


Chris West
Thanks to PG Wodehouse for ‘The Inimitable Jeeves’, John Le Carré for ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”.