Perhaps it is just my writer’s fondness for the power of words, but I believe that a brand can’t be well-trusted if it isn’t well-spoken.
This poses a problem for the Brave New World of Branding, in which marketers seems intent on sacrificing consistent, compelling brand voices on the altar of the new brand spokespeople: online consumer reviewers, Facebook friends and assorted Twitterati. Their burgeoning power is noted in survey after survey attesting to how thoroughly this new bred of spokespeople have grasped the Consumer Ear. There is little attention paid, however, to how well they are whispering into said ear.
I have no new data to offer about the communication quality of consumer-generated brandspeak, but one assumes it correlates to the quality of overall speech (perhaps even down a notch or two).
With that in mind I refer you to the linguistic musings of America’s poetry slam laureate Taylor Mali , who in one poem refers to this as “The most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since, you know, a long time ago…” Here’s that entire poem, rendered amazingly well in video by a then-student, Ronnie Bruce:
I don’t mean to say that a brand’s voice should come across as the King’s English, but it should at least be coherent English … or Spanish… or Chinese, etcetera. That voice must, of course, match a brand’s personality, and some may indeed want to cultivate a not-too-smart, don’t-care-much persona. But as brands increasingly encourage users to help shape brand voices , they will need to work ever harder at maintaining ownership. Otherwise they will no longer possess an authentic voice at all when they want to speak directly to customers, each of whom will instead be allowed to muddy the brand waters by (to borrow Mali’s words once more) “inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty.”