When you change your brand’s language, you change what your customers see.

To reposition your brand, you need to change people’s perceptions. We use language to do this, but some people are still sceptical how powerful language can be. So, here’s proof that language affects how you see the world around you. And, more than that, it changes what you see as well.

Greek has two words for ‘blue’ – ‘ghalazio’ for light blue and ‘ble’ for a darker shade.

Greek speakers can discriminate shades of blue faster and more accurately than native English speakers.

There’s no physiological reason for this. Greeks don’t have bigger or better eyes. There’s only one explanation:

The words you use change what you see.

Try it for yourself: these two blues are the same.

Blue 1     Blue 2

Whereas these two blues are different:

Blue 3     Blue 4

Can you see that they’re different? We’ll come back to why this is important at the end.

Here’s another example:

When people hear the name of an object, they’re more likely to see it if it flashes before their eyes moments later.*

Without the verbal cue, they simply don’t detect it.

Even more telling, the closer the shape of an object is to the verbal cue, the more likely people are to see it. For example, you’re more likely to see a ‘chair’ that looks more like an archetypal chair, rather than some postmodern abstraction of a seating device.

Which is why we urge brands to make their language as specific as possible. The more closely correlated your brand’s language is to your brand’s promise, the more likely it is that people will notice you.

Oh, and I lied earlier. The blues in both examples were different. But what you read sets your expectations, so you probably saw the second pair as different, and the first pair as the same.

It’s another example of what’s called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Put simply: language governs perception.

We use language to change the world for you and your customers. If that’s something you want to do, let’s talk.


* ‘Language can boost otherwise unseen objects into visual awareness’ by Gary Lupyan and Emily Ward, edited by James McClelland, Stanford University http://www.pnas.org/content/110/35/14196.abstract

Have a look at this, for more experiments: http://uk.businessinsider.com/what-is-blue-and-how-do-we-see-color-2015-2?r=US&IR=T