Monday, September 06, 2010

Imposing Your Brand Language

Very interesting article by BBC, about how Starbucks has imposed its own terminology to its products. It is of course a great marketing asset, because when your customers are accustomed to your products name, then it becomes part of their daily life.

There are a lot of companies that have been able to create their own language, and hence, control the market. A great example is the Ipod. The Ipod became the reference for mp3 players, and hence, everyone was referring to the name of Apple's product to speak about mp3s. Or of course the Game Boy is another good example.
"It is every company's dream to get their language out there and being used - it's linguistic product placement. And so the Manhattan scene probably was a reaction, albeit an extreme one, to the jargon imposed on us."

Of course, the purpose of the using language in this way is to burrow into the consumer's subconsciousness with one's own concepts and values.
Brand consultant Jonathan Gabay says carefully-chosen language can make a difference to consumers, but only if it is used subtly.

"The idea is that it's about more than just buying a cup of coffee - you're part of the club, using this supposedly sophisticated language, doing something a bit different," he says.
"The problem is when it's too heavy-handed and and the staff are effectively saying, 'Computer says no.' Marketing is ultimately about communication and some of these companies need to put down the guide books and remember that."

Nonetheless, there is undoubtedly method in Starbucks' approach.
Tony Thorne, King's College London's former language centre head, now a language and innovation consultant and the author of several slang dictionaries, says companies like Starbucks have appropriated the kitchen slang of 1920s New York diners to convey their message of authenticity and good taste.

However, he believes the impact of such marketing techniques is insidious.
"Some of this stuff is ludicrous in its complexity," he says. "They're not trying to turn us into food snobs - it's simply about imposing their brand values.
"It's intended to bamboozle and intimidate. I see it as a form of corporate bullying."
For their part, Starbucks have insisted that there "are no rules and customers have always been able to ask for drinks any way they want".