Today’s vocabulary is no longer just verbal, it may even be said to be predominantly visual. In this multimedia era, in which only a few split-seconds’ attention are spent on advertisements in magazines, pictures are far more important than words.
A territory of communication does not appear from nowhere, nor can it be arbitrarily assigned to the brand. Brand language allows brands to freely express their ideology. Not knowing which language to speak, we merely repeat the same groups of words or pictures over and over again, so that the whole brand message eventually becomes clogged.
There is such a great urge to create unity, resemblance and a common spirit among the different campaigns that in the end they all seem merely to repeat one another. Each specific campaign message thus gets obliterated by an excessive concern to find the missing code!
The code is always rather artificial whereas language is natural: it conveys the personality, culture and values of the sender, helping the latter either to announce products and services or to charm customers.
Brand language finally serves as a means of decentralising decisions. Thanks to the use of a common glossary of terms, different subsidiaries worldwide can adapt the theme of their messages to local market and product requirements and yet preserve the brand’s overall unity and indivisible nature. Brand identity must reconcile freedom with coherence, a task which expression guides (also called brand charters) are meant to facilitate. These should not merely address issues such as the position of the brand name on the page and so on.
They must also specify the following:dominant features of style;the audio-visual characteristics such as a gesture, a close-up of a customer’s face, ajingle;the graphic layout or narrative structure codes, and the brand’s colour codes;the principles determining if and how the brand – and its signature, if it has one – can be used in some circumstances.
Such cases must indeed be anticipated and defined in the expression guide.