Lexicon of a Brand

The words you use to describe your brand have a profound effect on how your company is perceived. There’s a vast difference between words that seemingly have the same meaning. The word “Pub” means something entirely different to people than the word “bar.” Pub implies a cozier socializing atmosphere, with quieter music, plush leather booths, and a wide variety of spirits. “Bar” implies raucous nights with loud pounding music, and young people looking for a wild evening. But, when I search for synonyms of the word “Pub” the first suggestion I see is “bar.” This is why you need to put thought into the lexicon of your brand. What do the words you use say about your business?

Never settle on a word. Try to strive towards new and surprising words that describe your business. Use them in everything you do until your company becomes synonymous with them. It’s important that every word describes who you are. Here are some examples. What brands do you think of when you see the following words?


Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Finger Lickin’.



You probably know the answers to all of these words, but here’s the cheat sheet. Mazda, Rice Krispies, KFC, Mastercard, & Liptons. Every one of these words has become essential in the lexicon of each of these brands. You might think that “Brisk” is simply the name of an Iced Tea, and you’d be right. But, if you look back into the 1940’s you’ll find that Lipton’s has used the word “brisk” to describe its tea for decades. So much so, that it has actually become the name of the brand. The words listed above have very little to do with their corresponding brands without many years of use. Once they find space in the collective minds of the consumer they become off limits to any competitor.

Where do you find your words?

You brainstorm. You exaggerate. You innovate. The words you use don’t even have to be words. The deodorant I use in the morning says “Believe in Your Smelf” on it. That’s Old Spice’s way of worming its way into my brain each time I use their product.

You can have many words that fit into your style, or you can focus on just one.

An exercise in creativity.

Write down 20 words that describe your business. Don’t worry about filtering out clichéd or boring words. Just let it flow out naturally. Once you have your 20 words, search for synonyms of each. Find tangents you can follow based on those words. Let them grow and evolve into entirely different words. By the time you’re finished you should have a spiderweb of hundreds of fascinating words. You’ll probably have a few inspirational moments for future campaigns and promotions based solely on the words you discover. Now you can edit out the ones you hear on a regular basis. Cross them out. Also, circle the ones that feel right for your business. Work the list from both angles until you find 5-10 words that feel like your business. They don’t all need to describe your business. They just need to reflect your business.

This is the lexicon of your brand.

Your goal is to use these words in your advertising. Make them your own. Place them in your consumer’s ear like small imaginative depth charges. The more you use them, the more they will bond with your brand. Your new words may even shift your brand into something new. Let it happen naturally. Promote the words you hear parroted back to you by your customers. The deeper the rabbit hole goes, the more memorable you will become.