brand expression

Does Your Brand Have a Distinctive Voice?


As a designer, I confess to a built-in visual bias when it comes to brand expression. I tend to experience a brand’s essence primarily through my eyes, by seeing how it draws me into its world.  And when I’m working with clients on a branding project, one of my first steps is to create a book of strategically selected pictures and graphics that create a feeling of immersion in the character and the unique ‘feel’ of the brand.

The next step though, is just as crucial. It involves the expression of the brand through words.

Most major brands have graphic standards that instruct internal and external communications people about how to maintain the brand’s integrity from a visual perspective. Fewer brands have similar guidelines about what the brand should ‘say’ to stakeholders.

Why is a brand story and a brand vocabulary so important?  Simply because your website, your brochures, your advertising and social media are all opportunities to draw customers into your brand world.  The words you use should reflect who you are and what makes you distinctive.  Take something as elementary as how you describe your customers. Westjet calls them guests.  Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters Tournament is played, insists on calling them patrons. Most professional firms use the word ‘clients’.

The decision to use those terms is the first step on the way to creating a corporate vocabulary and a corporate story that differentiates and distinguishes. It’s just that most organizations never take the next step and end up sounding like every other organization in their communications.

Given that you have a unique story to tell, when you use the same phrases and thoughts as everyone else to express it, you’ll sound the same as everyone else.  Don’t tell me you’re innovative, tell me why.  Don’t tell me that you value your people, tell me how. Don’t tell me you go the extra mile, take me on the trip with you. As we constantly tell our children… ‘use your words’.

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“Kraft Singles” out its Snack Division

Branding Insights
One of a series by John Paulo Cardoso, Spyder Works Chief Creative Officer & Founder


There are no red flags with Kraft’s new name change. On Aug. 4, 2011, Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE:KFT) announced plans to divide and create two independent public companies: a high-growth global snacks business and a high-margin North American grocery business. And now on March 21, 2012 they announced its plans for its snack food corporate name as Mondelez International, Inc.

As their press release describes it, “‘Mondelez’ (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ’) is a newly coined word that evokes the idea of “delicious world.” “Monde” derives from the Latin word for “world,” and “delez” is a fanciful expression of “delicious.” In addition, “International” captures the global nature of the business.”

What this demonstrates is that the company truly understands the strength of its brands and how they have built a relationship with customers. And now they are using this knowledge to manage the branding of its new independent company to leverage the platform “make today delicious.” The move to invent a new word and taking the time to let everyone know the phonetic spelling is the right thing to do for a multinational conglomerate rather than trying to leverage one of its current brand names. As the Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld has said regarding the new global snacks company, “we wanted to find a new name that could serve as an umbrella for our iconic brands, reinforce the truly global nature of this business and build on our higher purpose – to ‘make today delicious.’ Mondelez perfectly captures the idea of a ‘delicious world’ and will serve as a solid foundation for the strong relationships.” Kraft Foods Inc. brands know how to build relationships with its customers and now it’s applying it to the market and investors.

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Brand Architecture®: Every Breath You Take*

Great buildings, the ones that leave a lasting impression while serving a functional purpose, begin with a solid blueprint, based on information assembled by the architectural team. In the marketing world we often hear the term “Brand Architecture” (registered Trademark of Plunkett Communications Inc.) and it’s an accurate term when it is properly understood. The dictionary defines an architect as somebody whose job it is to design buildings. That’s a little bland for my liking—sort of like calling the Beatles “a band.”

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