Connect: Behaviour - Language: a barrier and a gateway

Experiential events must pay attention to wording if they want to trigger the desired reaction in consumers, says Shoppertainment managing director Clare Andrew.

Shoppertainment's Clare Andrews warns how words can be interpreted in many different ways
Shoppertainment's Clare Andrews warns how words can be interpreted in many different ways

'Just do it.' When you see these words, what is the first thing that comes into your head? Nike?

The power of those three words means the brand has now become instantly recognisable as one of the world's most popular sports companies. Not only do they denote throwing yourself into a challenge or trying something new, they have also become associated with the brand and its ethics.

Words can be interpreted in many different ways. To some people, a word such as 'compete' may have positive connotations, while to someone else it may create negative images in their head.

Wording can help brands connect with their target audiences and draw the eye to marketing campaigns. Too much wording can result in consumers getting lost. However, using just the right number of choice words will enable audiences to understand what the brand is selling to them, and they will be left with this choice language imprinted in their minds.

Memorable slogans

If you could count how many adverts you have seen or heard since you woke up this morning, and, more importantly, how many memorable slogans you have seen, you would realise that it could be hundreds, if not more.

Schweppes recently created a campaign with the words, 'Men have status. Boys are busy updating theirs'. The connotations from this simple slogan imply that the drink is sophisticated and cool and creates a feel-good factor for those 'men' who do drink Schweppes.

Whether a brand has existed for years or whether it's completely new, everything from its name to the slogan makes an impression on consumers. It needs to create a connection with target audiences in order to gain their trust. Slogans that make people think, or use a clever play on words, can perfect a campaign. Catchy slogans that use rhyme or alliteration to connect the phrase to the brand also tend to be well remembered. One notable example is 'Lick the lid of life' for Muller yogurt.

Experiential events

When looking at experiential events, everything that is displayed to the consumer can either make or break whether that consumer invests in the brand. But it's emotion that makes campaigns memorable. Whether it's the story in an advert, the music or the wording used, the more emotive a campaign is, the more likely the audience will remember and talk about it. The De Beers 'A diamond is forever' advert uses a memorable slogan and engages the emotional side of the brain. It touches a 'love' button on the right side and, consequently, the slogan has been used for decades.

Most importantly, a brand must deliver on the wording in its campaigns. If it uses words in branding material like 'prestige' or 'amazing', the product must fit the bill. If not, trust will be lost.

Expert advice

Professor Chris Frost, author and former head of journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, on brand communication essentials:

Many types of communication oblige the person to read, but a marketing campaign we can take or leave. It must invite us in by providing precisely what we want. A good communicator first needs to know their reader, as this will define the approach, vocabulary and syntax style.


Do we want to be friendly, authoritative, commanding, attention grabbing or subtle? Each requires a different use of language as we decide how we want our audience to respond to the message. People would not respond to a campaign selling soft toys that used the same language as one selling savings bonds. One is fun and probably aimed at children, the other could be dealing with someone's life savings, which they would take very seriously.

Our approach for each would be different. Short and sweet to match the fluffy toys, as brevity would ensure we catch our readers' interest and convince them to buy, yet detailed and specific for our investments offer, because we would want to assure people we are a serious and trustworthy operation. People may not want to read small print, but without trust they'd never invest their money.


We would emphasise the cuddly and desirable nature of the soft toy in short, sharp sentences full of lively verbs and adjectives that are widely used in everyday conversation. And while safety would need a mention, we'd keep that until the end. For the investment, we'd need a more refined vocabulary that expresses knowledge and competence.


This would define the connection. For the soft toy, we should write in tight, crisp sentences; we might even throw in a joke and would certainly make the text fun to read, with alliteration and slang carefully used to fit the audience.

The investment proposal, however, would need to be authoritative. Sentences would be longer with less widely used nouns and verbs giving a feel of specialist knowledge. Adjectives and adverbs would be limited, obliging longer sentences free of slang. We need a subtext of responsibility and trustworthiness.

Get it wrong and you may as well not spend your marketing budget. Get it right and your investment will reap big rewards.

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