Brand Vocabulary Matters

Hummingbird CreativeBranding & Creative

speaking the same language as your customers

So you’re a business trying to get your name out there. Hurtle one: being discovered. You’ve spent hundreds of hours working on your service, message and story– now, it’s time to share with the world. Here’s where you might stumble; because you’ve spent the time cementing the value of your product so you can crystalize your internal vision, you’ve probably developed a distinct vocabulary. You have words that have come to mean certain things and found an effective and efficient way to distinguish certain aspects of your products from others. This is the natural way of things. Language is constantly being tweaked in new, creative ways to enhance communication.

For example, “web” used to be a term used to describe spiders. Now, it’s a metaphoric term that describes a worldwide connection of computers. Think of other tech examples: stream, cloud and share– just to name a few. While some people may have been able to escape facets of modern life, most will understand what Dropbox is saying in their tagline “Easy and secure cloud storage.” However, ten years ago, this would not have been the case.

If you’ve created something new and original, the chances are that there will be no easy way to communicate your service. Language will not have evolved to efficiently capsulate the topic. Instead, you’ll have to create new words to try and capture the essence of the meaning.

receptive vs productive vocabulary

While you may have already create clear terminologies that make sense internally, your potential clients will not have learned the new vernacular. If you are able to talk to someone about your business, and they understand your message, that doesn’t mean they understand your words; this is the difference between receptive and productive vocabulary.

Receptive vocabulary is vocabulary we can understand; productive vocabulary is vocabulary we can produce.

knowing what words to use

Your clients are likely feeling hungry, not literally, but they have a sensation that something is missing. Because of this sensation, they’ll likely be searching for solutions. Here is where everything comes together. Your clients will most likely not be using the terms you’ve carefully thought out and formulated; and, if they’re not using your terminology, they probably won’t find you in their Google search.

So, how do you know what words to use? You don’t have to guess, there are tools out there made to help you find what language and search terms people are using. Options include:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends
  • Keyword Tool.io
  • Term Explorer
  • Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool
  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs
  • Accuranker
  • HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool

When you find what and how people are searching, you can begin to speak their language. Add it to your marketing materials, your website and your sales pitch. As we’ve said before, the first hurtle to business is discovery, and you succeed as soon as you gain critical mass so that people discover your service organically– meaning you’re not just pulling them in off the streets.

Gaining organic recognition is an important transition. When you were on the streets selling your product, you choose the vocabulary and you guided the discussion. When your brand makes the switch to organic, your clients choose the vocabulary. They search Google with terms and words that make sense to them, words they’re comfortable with and words that they understand.

going organic

The first step to transitioning towards going organic is incorporating client lingo. This can be done both internally and organically. Internally, you can interview clients , analyze the interviews and pick out common phrases. At Hummingbird, we do this when we’re trying to build the big idea for our clients.

There are three take home messages here. First, your first hurtle is your client’s first hurtle. Second, just because people understand what you say, it doesn’t mean they understand what you mean. And, finally, third, while there may be trends, there will likely be a diverse set of words used to describe your client’s needs. So while your nomenclature may eventually be commonly accepted, for now, it’s worth your time to discover what your clients are searching for.


do you need a team who really understands the core of your brand?

Discover what we can do for you. We love working with enthusiastic clients who are as passionate about their business as we are about brand strategy, design and development. If that sounds like you, we should talk. Schedule a call with one of our creative branding professionals to see what Hummingbird Creative Group can do for you. Contact us today!