How Far Is Your Brand Voice Downstream From Culture?

You know the expression, “Politics is downstream from culture“?
It’s not true.

At least, it’s not true for effective campaigners.
For them, their campaigns reshape culture.
For the other politicians, they’re left reacting to what culture does next.
It’s the same for brands.
You can redefine culture.
Or be redefined by it.
Which is why I think the language of this A-board for Valentines’ cards split opinions.

What I think this means:

Culture is moving faster than ever.
Who you can trust, what you can wear, what you can say.

You might not want to suggest your consumers bang each other against the furniture.
But some of them are happy with that.
You might care about apostrophes, but some consumers see it as a statement of privilege. (Yes, really.)
In summary, would you like your brand to be upstream or downstream from culture?
And have you checked that your brand voice is strong enough to support that?

What can you do?

If you want to have a think about your brand language, here are 3 questions you can pose:

  • Has your sector’s culture moved on, leaving your brand’s tone of voice looking a bit meh?
  • Is your copywriting team agile enough to respond to cultural eddies? 
  • Is your brand voice consistent but still able to flex for different channels and moments?

We’re the language animal.
We invented language to share ideas and build relationships.
That’s why language is the most powerful brand tool you’ll ever have.

A simple review of your brand language and how it fits into the new cultural norms might show you the route to getting your brand listened to.
If you’d like to talk more about how we help brand owners update their brand voice guidelines, train their writers and build powerful, distinctive brand voices which win customers, deepen loyalty and de-position rivals, let’s have a chat. Just email me: and we’ll find a time.

If you want to read more about how language can add value to your company, please click here.

About Verbal Identity

We are writers, strategists and linguistics experts: super-specialists in the magic and mechanics of language. We know how language creates thinking. And how – if you shape the language of your company, your comms and your customers – you shape what people think and do, read more…

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