Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language

by Digitopia | Updated Mar 31, 2024

Why Your Brand Needs Its Own Language

Brands that do a great job achieving cult status develop their own vernacular, their own way of speaking about themselves and the market space they occupy.

Cult brands talk about themselves in certain ways, using words and phrases to describe what they do, why they do it, and who they do it for. Eventually, this way of describing themselves—this internal language—spills over to the outside world where consumers adopt the lexicon to describe the brand and their own interactions with it.

Know the language. Be part of the club.

Any sociologist will tell you that a common language connects people.

It’s what makes commerce and collaboration in civilized society possible. Shared language also connects people with brands, creating an “us” mentality that fosters loyalty, awareness, and a sense of community.

As a consumer, it’s like being in on the joke, or getting a peek behind the scenes at your favorite company. As a member of the club, as someone in the “know,” you not only want to know the language, you want to use it when you interact with the brand and with others like you.

Apple has its “geniuses” and let’s be honest, who would you rather have take a look at your tablet or smartphone—a “genius” or plain old technical support?

Disney has “cast members” and “Imagineers,” not employees.

Similarly, Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” provides technical support services in-store, on-site, and over the Internet. More than just a memorable name, the Geek Squad consists of specialized “agents” who wear special uniforms and have their own fleet of branded vehicles. Need I say more?

Starbucks has its frapuccino which is really a blended coffee with ice, milk, and flavor. Given our druthers, I think it’s safe to say most of us would pick a frappucino over a ho-hum “blended coffee” anytime.

Brand language in pop culture

Brand language can also enter pop culture and mainstream discourse, making it more memorable and visible to wider audiences than its originators probably ever dreamed.

There was a Wendy’s advertising campaign in the 1980s called “Where’s the Beef?”


Not only did that brand messaging drive sales, it also wiggled its way into daily use in mainstream pop culture.

Here's an example...

Walter Mondale used that slogan to call the substance of fellow Democrat (and leader in the polls at the time) Gary Hart’s campaign into question. Hart fizzled and Mondale sizzled (at least until the general election).

Most of us nerds only need to hear the words “Klingon” or “Vulcan” to recognize the Star Trek brand, whose devoted fan base rescued the original series from cancellation in the 1960s and helped bring about subsequent spin-offs and successful movie franchises that are still going strong today. In fact, full “Klingon” and “Vulcan” languages have been created and dictionaries published online and in print!

Similarly, entire communities have grown up around “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Magic the Gathering,” and other such roll-playing games, complete with their own histories and lexicons.

Brand language in our langage

Some brands have even permeated our everyday language. Consider these brand names that have become verbs.

Do you use "tissues", or do you use Kleenex?

Do you "search" for things online, or do you Google them?

Do you "get a ride" somewhere or do you Uber?

And when is the last time you sent a package overnight? Chances are you “Fed-exed-it.”

Brand Language Matters

From a product differentiation standpoint, for the most part, we marketers are operating in an era of “all things are equal.” These days, marketing success is often more about how you speak about your brand than it is about the product itself.

  • Will you be a “genius,” or will you be plain vanilla tech support?
  • Will you serve café misto, or coffee with milk?
  • Will you hire employees or cast members?

Building a cult brand doesn’t happen overnight . . . and it won’t necessarily be intentional. But, you can help it get there if you use the right language.

Bring your brand language to life with a better B2B content strategy.


Topics:Content MarketingBranding