Brands and

Language is ubiquitous in communi­cation – yet rarely used for brand communi­cation. Many people only see language as a vehicle to dispense information: attributes, benefits, special product and service features, maybe a little bit of the brand mindset. But this is precisely where it starts. It’s practically impossible to convey a mindset or attitude through the meanings of words. Instead, it is reflected in the inflexion, style and nuances.


If a brand describes itself as »approachable« but describes its offerings in a distanced, technical tone, the »approachable« brand value isn’t brought to life. Rather than being believable, it remains a mere allegation.
Based on the brand values

This is where the brand language – or, as it’s commonly called, the tone of voice – comes into play. What is so special about it? We develop language principles that are semantically derived from the brand core. This is necessary because the brand values themselves rarely indicate the direction that the language should take. 

Let’s look at »future-oriented«, for example. What does this mean for language? There are a number of different ways that we could express »future-oriented«, such as »modern«, »uncomplicated«, »flexible«, »young«, »web-ready«, »straightforward«, etc. This cluster of terms is then summarised to become a language principle in line with the overall brand concept.

not automated

As you see, there is not a universal formula for »translating« the brand values into language. It’s essential that the brand language be developed in line with the actual communication – and in close collaboration with the professionals who work with it on a daily basis. Otherwise, it seems artificially imposed and empty.

This is why we analyse all available channels in detail and conduct a kind of linguistic diagnosis. The status quo always provides us with the starting point for a new or updated brand language. Thus, there aren’t any pre‑defined instructions for language. Universal guidelines such as »short, clear sentences« or »avoid using the subjunctive« may apply in practically every case but are not sufficient when defining a truly customised brand language.

The result:
an effective companion

The brand language is a practical set of guidelines that gives people who work with the brand important points on how it should come across and feel in communication. It should include specific, easy‑to‑understand examples from real‑life applications: sample copy and carefully researched Don’ts, specifications for different fields such as press releases and social media, naming conventions, glossaries and an appendix containing best practices. 

It should be a fairly compact document to ensure that people actually read it – but also to ensure that it effectively reflects the spirit of the brand. Most importantly: The brand language guidelines should be written using the corresponding tone of voice.

True synergies

When working on a brand language, a welcome side effect often emerges: In addition to defining the tone of voice, it is immediately applied in pending projects and media – whether it’s a flyer, website copy, an image campaign or an overarching headline concept. We implement the brand language or support other agencies in its execution. As a result, best practices are created in specific, purposeful media where communication is needed – not in a vacuum.

01b kms team schneider àxel sanjosé 6 5
A carefully constructed brand language expresses the brand in every piece of information.

Àxel Sanjosé

Two examples from
brand language guidelines


99 kms team start footer 2 1