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Art of Naming: Creating Your Brand Language across Consumers’ Brand Experience Journey

In today’s world, consumers are seeking authentic, meaningful and differentiated experience in their interactions with brands. As a result, brands are paying more attention to review their brands and evaluate touchpoints to identify areas for impactful consumer engagement.

To create captivating stories about the brand, its brand elements need to be identified and named. With a distinct identity, the elements can thereby relate the audience to the brand, join the dots with other elements and navigate the audience within the brand’s world as the stories evolve. The terminologies used to name these elements should relate to the brand’s big idea or overall value proposition. For example, “magical experiences” for Disney. In this article, we will explore 3 approaches that you, the brand marketer, can consider when creating your brand language across your consumers’ brand experience journey.

Approach 1: Take Reference from Your Brand Personality

Brand personalities make brands come alive and bridge emotive connections with users. It can be brought forth in many ways: from a brand’s tone of voice, the imageries used and showcased across different touchpoints from product design, customer service experience, marketing campaigns, taglines to social media posts. With each brand element as an extension of the brand, it is, therefore, an opportunity for your brand language to take on the personality traits of the brand.

This approach is useful for brands with unique personalities, particularly for those along the "excitement" dimension. The higher perceived energy level from these brands make it easier to attract attention and thereby increase its overall appeal. For example, Happy Meal® from McDonald’s to reflect its cheerful and friendly personality or Nike Blazer / Air Max to illustrate Nike’s daring and spirited personality.

Another example is Scoot, a low-cost carrier brand of Singapore Airlines. Scoot’s bold, unconventional and quirky personality is a key anchor of its entire brand universe. From the brand name alone, which represents a swift movement, Scoot communicates its "quick and cheap getaway" value proposition in a fun and energetic manner. Represented in a bright yellow color, tongue-in-cheek tone of voice and comical illustrations, the brand is fuelled with Scootitude (spontaneity, open-minded attitude). This is translated into the use of creative twists and puns in its marketing campaigns and the development of terminology to name the different brand elements along a consumer’s brand journey. 

Scoot's brand personality (compiled by Labbrand)
Compiled by Labbrand (Photos/Copy: Scoot’s website & social media)

Before travelling, consumers can choose to upgrade to the ScootinSilence zone or ScootBiz seats during or after their flight bookings. They are also encouraged to ScoottoGate when they depart from Singapore’s Changi Airport. Whilst onboard, travellers are welcomed by a rainbow array of lights and are greeted and served by Scootee. They can also choose to purchase meals via Scootcafe or shop in the air with Scootalogue. Recently, Scoot has also launched a new product, Escape Class, that allows travellers to book mystery destinations at low fares. In its marketing activities and communications, Scoot commonly uses terms such as flyscoot, scootin’, scoot2 (destination name), so-far-so-scoot etc to bridge relevance of travel with its brand name and promote call-to-action. 

Examples of social media posts & unique hashtags created and used by Scoot
Examples of social media posts & unique hashtags created and used by Scoot

Approach 2: Theme It around Your Ideal Consumer Experience

For consumers to navigate clearly and smoothly in their brand experience journey, brands need to identify a common thread across the different touchpoints to bind things together. By anchoring it around your ideal consumer experience, the theme creates a fictitious boundary for exploration and strengthened perceptions of the brand as every term created is closely associated with the brand’s ideal image. An example is Sephora, the beauty retailer with presence across the globe.

Within Sephora, the brand language and retail experience are coined with a "theatrical play" theme, that enables live performance and interaction between its different stakeholders. Their sales floor is known as the stage, store executives and beauty advisors are dubbed as the cast member and the store manager is the show director. Together, they share and inspire consumers (a.k.a beauty lovers) with their beauty knowledge, and allow them to experiment with technology-led innovation such as Sephora’s Color IQ technology and Sephora Virtual Assistant. Though these names are used mainly by internal stakeholders to address the different brand touchpoints, the ability to speak a common “lingo” strengthens the collective image of its brand ambassadors, which builds and delivers superb service experiences for its consumers. 

Sephora’s “cast members”, Sephora Studio, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program
L-R: Sephora’s “cast members”, Sephora Studio, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program (Photos: Getty/Internet)

As the brand grew and with greater consumer traction, some of the terms are now made known to the public such as Sephora Studio (a new boutique retail concept) and its Beauty Insider loyalty program with tiering of VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) and VIB Rouge for members with different spending history. The "theatrical play" theme presents Sephora as a “beauty stage”, where stakeholders interact, experiment and discover things about beauty in an intriguingly and engagingly way. Through its brand universe, Sephora creates an arena that allows multi-way conversations and content-creation around the topic of beauty between the brand and its stakeholders. 

Approach 3: Make It Surprisingly Differentiated

We are all attracted to novelty and surprises. An unexpected and new idea makes one stand out from the crowd and capture our attention. Within the consumers’ brand experience journey, giving commonly known brand touchpoint a different name brings a new perspective to the game. It enhances the level of uniqueness of the brand and makes it more memorable. This approach is most suitable for new brands seeking a breakthrough in an industry or category defiant, who choose to do things differently to stand out from the crowd. An example is FRANK by OCBC, an initiative to encourage financial literacy amongst youth as they enter adulthood.

Stemming from the phrase “frankly speaking”, FRANK By OCBC is direct, candid and welcoming. The brand differentiates itself from other conventional financial products by placing a strong focus on content-generation to address the issues faced by consumers in #adulting. Its FRANK Retail Store is designed with an open concept that allows consumers to browse, touch and have an open discussion with FRANK ambassadors on their banking needs. To further build relevance with the youth, the bank also launched a FRANKPRENEURSHIP, a summer internship program that kindles youths’ entrepreneurship spirit to be game-changers in the banking world. 

FRANK Retail Store, Card design assortment, FRANKPRENEURSHIP project showcase
L-R: FRANK Retail Store, Card design assortment, FRANKPRENEURSHIP project showcase (Photos: FRANK website)

What Can Be “Named” within Your Consumers’ Brand Experience Journey?

Now that you have some idea on how to create the brand language for your brand's elements, your next question may then be, “What can be named?”. Some of the most common aspects and brand elements that can be named include:

  • Product/Services: E.g. McNuggets, McDelivery etc. Within the consumers’ brand experience journey, names created usually adopt a symbiotic or centralized system for a clearer association to brand and ease of navigation.
  • Staff/Culture/Internal programs: E.g. Scootee/Scootitude from Scoot, The Purple Promise from FedEx etc. The creation of names/terms for these brand elements create a strong sense of belonging and act as a catalyst/pledge that binds internal stakeholders together.
  • Loyalty/Membership programs: E.g. Sephora Beauty Insider, Amazon Prime etc. Creating a community that facilitates interaction between like-minded consumers and inspiration of user-generated content.
  • Iconic brand “ritual”: E.g. The Pulau Pledge. An eco-pledge that is signed by visitors upon arrival in Pulau, in promising to act in an environmentally responsible way. When a specific element/experience is "named", it is officiated and becomes a part of the standard experience that consumers will undergo when interacting with the brand. 
Examples of collaterals developed for the "The Palau Pledge" initiative
Examples of collaterals developed for the "The Palau Pledge" initiative

Now, pick a brand element that comes to mind and consider the following:

  • Is this an important touchpoint that is often mentioned in consumers’ stories about the brand?
  • Will naming this touchpoint enable the target audience to better understand the brand’s proposition or facilitate brand awareness building or brand recall?
  • Does it encourage branded conversations between stakeholders?
  • Can it be integrated with the other branded elements to build stronger emotional resonance of the brand?

If your answer is “Yes” to most questions, Congratulations. You probably identified a suitable touchpoint that you should create a name for.

Though everything within the consumers’ brand experience journey can be named, it does not mean that you should do so. The objective to naming elements within your brand is to enliven your brand’s ability to engage stakeholders in an authentic, meaningful and differentiated way. Overdoing it can backfire if it reaches a point where stakeholders are overwhelmed and confused by the terms. The crux of “what to name” and “how to name” lies in a clear identification of what is genuinely suitable for your brand. Be selective and think strategically when creating your brand language to where it delivers impact the most.