A brand is not just the sum of its products or the deals it offers. A brand is a legacy. What is the language of a brand? It is the system of signs that the brand has created to speak through each of its incarnations: its advertising, its products, its website, its events, but also the segmentation of its offer, or its promotional system. Thus, the language of a brand consists of words, sounds, colors, materials, images, concepts, … in short, all forms of an alphabet by which the consumer comes into contact with the brand, in any and every direction.
When a brand develops its language system, this system must be absolutely proprietary: every sign is interpreted by the brand in a unique way. Thus, the red of Vitamin Water is not the red of Senseo. One is tangy and bright, the other is dark and dense. This language, being proprietary, allows a direct reappropriation by the consumer. Who would not recognize the iconic Coke bottle, even in one small fragment of glass? As a vector of recognition, language becomes a tool of complicity. To develop a language, is then to maintain consumer attachment. Conversely, a brand that does not develop specific language is relegated to a purely functional aspect and cannot create connection: this is a brand of pure “commodity“.
A successful brand system is also a holistic system. Each sign will correspond to create a consistent and strong experience from start to finish. In this area, the alphabet which shapes Apple is particularly significant. With this brand, the pattern of the curve, unique in its genre (an ultra-clean, almost square radius of curvature) manifests and resonates in each design element: from the contour of the iPhone, the iMac, and the Macbook, to the keyboard, its keys, and icons … Apple speaks to its user in every gesture. The language of a brand is extended into the consumer’s physical experience, thereby expressing all of its specific features.
Thus, the brand language allows it to translate its vision of the world, its way of being in the world, in an emotional and sensory way. At BMW, for example, the feel of the leather, the particular sound of the slamming door, or the grain of the steering wheel, are direct expressions of its slogan “Sheer Driving Pleasure”. In this register of sounds, in this grammar of materials and sensations, the joy of driving is entirely contained – this intense pleasure experience that the brand seeks to create for its consumer. Through the design experience, the user can thus feel the world as it is seen by BMW.
But just like the human language, the language of a brand may wear out and become a dead language, by dint of repeating itself. As a living organism, subject to time and to consumers who are still evolving, the brand must develop a language in its own image that is rich enough to continue being in the world. Evian understands this well, as a brand that constantly renews its language around its vision of purity: through new materials (satin-finish plastic), through new forms (the water droplet), the brand re-examines and restates its identity in new signs that reflect it. And you? What will be your language of tomorrow?
Jérôme Lanoy, CEO.