Verbal Identity: Building a Brand from words

It’s happening and, contrary to what many people think, at Mandarina Brand Society we always like to say that our Branding projects are based on words. Our most complex work is actually getting into a client’s house, understanding how it is, how it works, what makes it different and knowing how to summarize it in one word: that Brandword which is the essence and synthesizes its value proposal, that meaning to which we must be faithful throughout the project.

However, and despite the enormous relevance of words in the whole process of Brand creation, when we talk about Identity, in a high percentage of cases there is an effect of transnomination or metonymy. We take a part for the whole and define as identity what in reality is only a part of it: the visual identity. The second ingredient of the equation, and as important as the first, is verbal identity. Both must work in a coherent and coordinated way in order to transmit the personality we want for our Brand.

Brands Talk like people

But let’s start from the beginning. Modern Branding has an anthropological approach, so, it is based on the assumption that the relationships between Brands and People are built in a similar way as the relationships between people are built.

From that basis, let’s think about what happens when we meet anyone for the first time. We look at what he looks like externally, at his/her physical features, at his/her hairstyle, at how he/she are dressed, and based on that, we make a mental composition of what that person might be like. That approach is equivalent to what is provided by the Brand’s Visual Identity. The Brand’s logo, the colors, the typographic uses and visual universe, are “the suit” with which we dress our Brand, which defines its external appearance.

Following with the previous example, we will get a second, deeper level of knowledge of that person by hearing them speak. What he says, what subjects interest him; if he uses an informal or more formal vocabulary; if his tone of voice is warm and suggestive or flat and distant; if he talks fast or slowly; if he is funny or boring us to death… All these factors of a stranger’s personality are within our reach simply by listening to him talk for a while.

It’s the same with Brands: Brands speak to their audiences just like people do. The way you answer the phone, a press release, texts on a website, the CEO’s speech, employee announcements, customer notifications, the voice of the principal players of an advertising spot, or the narrator’s one on a corporate video… Thousands and thousands of daily interactions with the voice and the word as Major Roles make up our way of speaking as a Brand.

Building up our own Verbal Identity

  • Verbal Identity is the way we bring our Brand to life, and it’s the way to enables dialogue with our audiences. It is one of the Brand-building tools that most connects with people and that best allows us to build a perception of who we are. Through verbal identity we not only define what to say and to whom. We also define how, and we do it with coherence to our value proposal, to that first word we select as brandword, to our brand personality and to the behaviours we want to project.

    When defining a verbal identity, we take into account three basic aspects:

    The voice with it we describe the personality of the brand. A sweet, firm or funny voice provokes different emotional responses and you must align yours with your brand personality.
    The tone defines how we will use that voice in different contexts or situations. Depending on who we are talking to (the audience) or the topic we are dealing with, we can shape our voice with a different tone: more informative, more assertive, more emotional… the same as we would do when relating to different people. It is not the same to respond to a client’s complaint as to inform him about a new offer or promotion. Our voice will be the same, but the tone we adopt to convey that information changes to empathize with the person in front of us.
    Style is the set of rules on which messages are built. Following the thread of coherence we always talk about when referring to brand building, we will delimit the stylistic resources and the vocabulary we are going to use: lists of synonyms of the meanings we want to convey; we will consider whether we will write simple sentences to denote simplicity, or with connectors and subordinates to elaborate a more elaborate and intellectual discourse: deciding whether we will talk about you or about you… All these aspects will define the way we are going to convey our message and a good choice will multiply its effectiveness

The way you speak is what makes you different

Verbal Identity is becoming more and more relevant as a strategic Brand-building tool because in many cases it allows for a higher level of differentiation. The Spanglish that characterized Vueling in its beginnings; or the silences, the pause, and the reflexive tone of Banco Sabadell in its “Conversations” that now moves to its new project “New Times” achieved that we recognized those Brands among a million and clearly differentiated them from their direct competitors.

When the Brand is your Voice

In top of that, we must take into consideration the unstoppable rise of Voice Assistants. Siri, Alexa, or Cortana are the beginning of a new way of relating to our environment thanks to technology and Brands must be prepared for this. In a short term, the voice will be one of the main touching points between users and the Brand: that voice that we will hear on the other side of the gadget will be the Brand for us. It’s the time to put “The dart in the word” (with the permission of Mr. Fernando Lázaro Carreter) and make the use of language and empathy our Strategic Allies.


At Mandarina Brand Society we do not understand branding projects without this fundamental element and we can help you in the development of your verbal identity. Shall we talk?

Pilar Domínguez
Pilar Domínguez
Directora creativa y especialista en branding
Mandarina Brand Society Mandarina Brand Society

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