NASHVILLE MARKETING BLOG: Insights on strategic branding, marketing management, general business and Nashville marketing topics. By Monica Powers, Vanderbilt MBA and marketing consultant in Nashville, TN.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Superlative Marketing and The Language of Brands

There's nothing quite like watching World Cup soccer on Spanish television. Even if you don't grasp the language, you can tell when a great play is coming together by the rising pitch and volume in the commentators' voices. And when either team scores, well, let's just say words won't really matter--if the volume is turned up, you will know right away when to put down your beer (or run back to your set from the kitchen) and catch the replay.

Hispanic commentators will not only tell you when a team scores, they'll go as far as qualifying the goals: some are GOLES, other awesome shots are GOOOOOOOOOOL GOL GOLES, and the beautiful, memorable plays are GOLAZOS. If you're playing the World Cup, a GOLAZO, a superlative goal, is the kind you want to score.

Romantic languages are rich with superlatives. We are most familiar with Italian women who are not only bellas but bellisimas, or a performer who deserves not merely a standing ovation bravo, but a bravissimo. When you use a superlative form to describe a person or experience, the regular adjective is no longer enough to capture your passion--the depth of your connection with that person or experience.

Every brand has a language of its own, and I'll venture to say a brand is a language unto itself. The minds behind a brand (the marketers) create the building blocks for that language, but it is the market who takes the language, adopts it, and molds it into something of their very own. They assign descriptors and qualifiers to your brand--good, better, best, forgettable, memorable, outstanding. They use words and stories to tell others about the depth of their connection with your brand.

Think of the brands you most admire--companies that are memorable for their quality of products, services, or experience. You think of them first because they have successfully created indelible, superlative impressions in your mind.

Now think of ways to "earn" superlative language for your brand. Seek out your most passionate customers, and create vehicles for them to communicate their passion to others. Give them a way to extend that personal connection to others. You just might score yourself a golazo.


Blogger The Equalizer said...

I like how you connected all this to branding Monica! Such an interesting field, looks like I'm headed down that route

June 29, 2006 10:37 AM

Anonymous monicapowers said...

Thanks for stopping by!

June 30, 2006 12:00 PM

Anonymous José F. López A. said...


Our company (an interpretation translation company) has taken a life of its own. The quality of our services is extremely good, so much so, that our customers are ecstatic with the abysmal difference between our services and that of our "competitors". They can't stop talking about us to others. We are absolutely overwhelmed and flooded with referrals already. We haven't done any real marketing to take enough advantage of that word-of-mouth though, because if we did, we would still not be ready for the ensuing flood of business and we would be turning clients away for lack of capacity to meet the demand -which would then create a negative impression on our future customer base, i.e., "they're never available". This has actually happened to my “competition”. What I'm getting at is that: first you create the reality behind the hype, and then, when you are ready to hype-up your company and your reputation precedes you, you figure out a way to use superlatives that already exist (life of it’s own). Then you take off like a rocket, but only once you are ready to deliver. Still, I’m not sure what to do to cost-effectively help create through marketing a perception that piggy-backs on reality and that leverages of it. I definitely need to: “Seek out your most passionate customers, and create vehicles for them to communicate their passion to others. Give them a way to extend that personal connection to others.” Currently we are investing heavily (almost to a fault) on being able to deliver services of high quality at a greater through-put. However, our image is below what the reality actually is, and we need to correct that, because that certainly is holding us back to some degree. Interestingly, my competition is all about image and when they don’t deliver, their image on paper comes crumbling down. This is great for my company because my future clients have had a taste of that poor service and are flabbergasted at the difference once they meet us. They have told us so.

July 01, 2006 12:39 PM

Blogger Monica Powers said...

José, your company sounds like an interesting case study on how to deliver the substance behind the brand. It seems that your challenge is to continuously raise the bar without spreading yourself too thin. As your service quality goes up, so do your clients' base expectations for you. It's a great problem to have--good luck on using that differentiation to your advantage.

July 01, 2006 4:12 PM

Anonymous José F. López A said...

Yes, exactly. It's particularly challenging because you literally have to plan for the future (anticipating, etc.) The growth is exponential, so that throws conventional projections out the window. We try to create over-capacity and then it evaporates very quickly. We're focusing on getting the right people on board to meet the ever-increasing expectations. I love the book Good to Great by Jim Collins that touches on that a lot.

Transperfect (Liz Elting, Co-founder, Harvard MBA, now 40) went from 0 to $70 M in yearly sales in about 13 years! There's 4,567 steps that need to be taken, and we're on, say, step number 342. What an adventure! Thanks for your comments. They're right on.

July 01, 2006 4:45 PM


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