What’s Verbal Branding? It’s Not What You Think It Is (w/Examples)
Verbal Branding

What’s Verbal Branding? It’s Not What You Think It Is (w/Examples)

Discover what verbal branding is, what it’s not, and the elements comprising it. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about verbal branding and more.

Verbal branding is crucial for fintech brands aiming to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. It goes beyond mere words; it supports your brand strategy and is the cornerstone of your overall branding. It influences how consumers perceive you and guides your customer interactions. In the fintech industry, where trust is everything, understanding the power of verbal branding can significantly impact the stages of your brand’s or product’s life cycle. Let’s discover verbal branding and its elements.

What Is Verbal Branding?

Verbal branding is not verbal identity. Verbal branding is the act of using language to influence perceptions and create connections, while verbal identity is the result of those actions, primarily expressed through words. Verbal branding is the specific part of branding that leverages language to create experiences, tap into emotions, and change people’s minds. The most successful brands use verbal branding to shape their visual identities and physical spaces. 

In a nutshell, verbal branding is what you do, and verbal identity is what you get.

The Elements of Verbal Branding

Verbal branding elements are a crucial base for every brand’s development. Verbal branding is the cornerstone of your overall branding because it guides your visual, physical, and even sonic identities. Individually, the elements mean nothing, but collectively, they create an unstoppable verbal identity. 

From our years of experience working on the verbal and visual sides, here’s what we’ve identified as verbal branding elements.

Voice & tone - Your personality is expressed through written and spoken language but with the right tone. It sets the style and tone of your communication. For example, Innocent’s voice is satirical, playful, and naive. Their tone is informal and comical.

Vocabulary - This is the body of words you use to communicate. It ensures consistency and helps create brand recognition and recall. For example, Starbucks’ brand vocabulary is authentic, builds deeper connections with their audience, and sparks conversations.

Grammar - This is the form and structure of words, including the rules for the everyday use of written language. For example, Honda broke the rules regarding the agreement between singular and plural nouns/pronouns. Their 2012 Honda Civic slogan said, “To each their own,” but “each” is singular, and “their” is plural. So, grammatically speaking, “to each their own” should be “to each her own” or “to each his own.”

Syntax - This is a subdivision of grammar, but we treat it as a separate element. It’s the arrangement or order of words and phrases, including sentence structure, length, and patterns (the order affects the meaning). For example, Nutella defies the typical sentence order of subject-verb-object with their slogan “Spread the happy.” Here, “happy” is an adjective and can’t be an object.

The syntactically correct sentence would be “spread happiness,” where “happiness” is the object; it acts as a noun because it receives the verb’s action.

Semantics - This is also a subdivision of grammar, but again, we treat it as a separate element. It’s the meaning of words, combinations of words, sentences (verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs), and the interpretation we draw from them. It governs meaning at the sentence level. For example, Saatchi & Saatchi’s 1978 campaign slogan for the UK’s Conservative Party, “Labour isn’t working,” has multiple meanings. Unemployment rose under the Labour Party’s rule, so “Labour” is literal and figurative.

Morphology -  This is how you combine or separate words and parts of words to change the word’s meaning or create a new word. It uses prefixes, suffixes, and base words to make single or compound words. Morphology governs meaning at the word level. For example, Apple uses the prefix “I” to create product names like iPhone, iMac, and iPad and base words to create compound words like FaceTime and AppleCare.

Mechanics - These are the technical rules comprising grammar and syntax that govern written language. They include rules for punctuation, spelling, abbreviation, and capitalization. For example, Mailchimp outlines mechanics in their content style guide to streamline their written communication.

Pronunciation - This is how you make the sound of words. From a branding perspective, pronunciation affects brand names, where emphasis may be placed on certain syllables in a word. For example, Hyundai, a South Korean car manufacturer, ran an ad focusing on how to pronounce their name. It was important because they wanted to show that they “are proudly Korean with real character and purpose.”

Each element creates an impression that forms a dynamic integrative whole. This whole is an authentic representation of your brand and verbal identity—one that your customers instinctively associate with your brand. Rules around using these elements together should be codified.

The Importance of Verbal Branding in Fintech

Verbal branding is an underrated practice in fintech and arguably one of the most valuable assets because of its virality. It makes your brand memorable and differentiated, supports word-of-mouth marketing, and builds brand culture. In an industry with high competition and a low life expectancy, verbal branding creates trust, meaning, and relationships.

In the End

Verbal branding creates the linguistic framework for how your brand writes and speaks. It connects who you are internally with who you are externally. It builds alignment around language that grows communities and establishes tribes.

Book a call and let us develop your verbal brand.

About Kizkopop®

Kizkopop is a verbal identity studio for fintech underdogs.

We use language to separate you from competitors while growing your customer base. We approach each project with our proprietary Six Thinking Pens method to create differentiated messaging that moves the mind and shakes the soul.

Read our case studies, then send us a message or book a call if you have a big problem we can solve.

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