The $1 trillion fraud: the brand language of innovation

In marketing, life seems easy for the innovators, the challengers, the crazy ones.

But what if you’re the incumbent – the established brand. What do you need to do with your brand language to win back a share of mind, leading customers from those plucky challengers?

I’m Chris West of Verbal Identity. We’re working with the leaders of fast growth companies to help them create One Vision, One Story and One Voice for their brand.

At the end of today’s video I’ll tell you about a trillion dollar con conducted by a wellknown brand. It fooled me for a while, it may have fooled you, it fooled most of the world.

But before then, the question is really: if you’re an established brand, how do you use language to challenge?

As you know, the presidential reelection campaign has started and it’s worth remembering how Donald Trump used language. He got elected by saying he was going to fight the establishment.

He’s white, he’s wealthy, he’s male. How much more establishment than that can you get? He doesn’t just play golf, he has golf courses named after him.

So the truth is you don’t have to be launching groundbreaking products like Apple to win customers. Your storytelling can be your innovation. As the Donald said at one rally, ‘we’re doing a lot of things that people don’t even know about.’ And you can’t fact check that.

He proves what we at Verbal Identity believe in; much more than just tone of voice, a brand’s language operates at three levels:

At 10,000 ft you have your overarching narrative, where you’ve got to be clear what you stand for and what you stand against (and by the way, as Hilary saw, if you’re not clear on your narrative then your challenger’s narrative soon dominates your conversation).

At 1,000 ft your tone of voice must be consistent with your narrative. If you’re here to change the world, your language can’t be out of date. And that’s why we’re seeing a lot of brands refreshing their verbal guidelines every three years.

And at ground level, it’s the nuts-and-bolts. Things like sentence length, the words and phrases you do and don’t use. That’s got to be consistent with your tone of voice and reinforce your narrative.

More than anything else language can make you seem innovative or out-of-date, and it’s this that’s allowed the trillion-dollar con to happen.

Have you heard about MPman or SaeHan information Systems? Probably not.

They had superior products but inferior storytelling. The world was persuaded instead that there was a much innovative product from a much more innovative company. Even though that company was launching its products onto the market four years late. And that company went on to be worth one trillion dollars…

Apple weren’t disruptive in their product, they were disruptive in their storytelling.

If you want to know more about how brands can use language to shape thinking, build value and win customers, then please email me.

If you want to learn about brand vision, read 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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