What Is Brand Language?

Jessica Ellis

Brand language refers to the words, phrases, and terms used by a company to describe itself or its products. A popular focus for sales and marketing teams, developing and encouraging a positive brand language can help a company distinguish itself from competitors and create word associations between certain terms and the products it offers. Two of the most important considerations in developing a brand language are word choice and tone.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Creating a brand language helps cement the definition of a company and its offerings in the minds of the consumers. For instance, if a tool company wants customers to focus on its long history, it may develop an language that stresses things like tradition, steadfastness, reliability, and stability. The words used to describe a company can help attract customers, improve recruitment efforts, and build the reputation of the business. In a very real way, the brand language may create the brand identity just as much as the products themselves.

Developing a language and consistently using it in advertising, slogans, and promotional materials not only helps customers use the same words to identify the brand, but may also prevent competitors from framing the brand in their own, often negative, terms. In fact, competitors may be forced into defensive advertising strategies, or even re-branding, in order to compete with company that has strong brand language. For instance, a competitor of the tool company above might want to advertise itself as hip, flexible, and modern-day to compete with the brand language of the reliable company. However, since people may prefer their tools to be reliable rather than cool and hip, this branding may not draw as many customers.

Word choice and tone are two of the key factors used to create a brand language. Word choice refers to the actual vocabulary used in advertising and marketing, while tone may refer to the attitude in which the product is presented. For instance, a children's toy company that focuses on educational toys might want to used more advanced vocabulary and a formal tone, while a toy company that focuses on entertainment might use silly words and an extremely casual tone. If both companies advertised a set of building blocks, the educational company might use terms such as “imagination,” or “constructive fun,” while the entertainment company might rely on phrases like “crazy building fun.” Tone can also be incorporated in every aspect from font choice and color to product description and packaging materials.

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My favorite brand phrase is one that is used by a beer company in New Zealand. Tui beers have had an advertising campaign going for a while that has a phrase, and then next to it "yeah right".

The phrase might be something political, or something like "It makes your bum look small". They have had some really clever ones and they change the billboards all the time.

But what I really like about it is that they don't get too irritated when other people co-opt their boards for their own purposes.

If it's funny (and they leave the Tui logo intact) they'll leave it up for a few days. So lots of grassroots campaigns get a chance to get the word out without spending a lot of money.

It's nice to see beer being used as a force for good in the world.


One of the most successful branding language campaigns of all time has got to be the "just do it" from Nike. I mean, I think most of the world would recognize that phrase and know exactly where it came from. Plus it conveys exactly the image the company wants to project and that image isn't about to go out of style.

It makes me wonder who exactly came up with the phrase. It seems like it was probably the brainwave of a single person. Did they all just know it was going to be a massive hit, or was it just going to be another ad among many at first?

I mean, even coca cola has changed their brand phrases over and over.

Just Do It remains the same.

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