Get in a Better Position

At The Quell Group, we are focused on assisting our clients to identify a market position that they alone can own. We argue that it is a far more valuable use of both time and budget to focus on the development of a bulletproof market position and supporting positioning statement. The delivery of your positioning—the channels, the words, the images—are secondary to the creation of a bulletproof position.

Position vs. Positioning

Your position is the set of things that you own: superior product quality, unmatched speed of product development, customer service that is unmatched, etc.

All market-facing materials will derive from the unique position you have claimed for your own. By virtue of supporting a true point of differentiation, your marketing activity will be more effective, more memorable and, most importantly, generate positive ROI.
A positioning statement is a definition of how a given product, service or brand fills a particular consumer need in a way that its competitors cannot.

Once a solid positioning statement is developed, the rest of your marketing activity will be natural. Your positioning statement will dictate the words used in your social posts; the way the receptionist answers the phone; the look and feel of your trade show booth; in short, all market facing elements.

Bulletproof Positioning Statements

A positioning statement is a one- or two-sentence statement that articulates your company, product or service’s unique value to your customers in relation to your chief competition. It summarizes, for all of your team, exactly what makes your organization, your product or your service the compelling option for customers.

It conveys the distinct position that only you can claim — the position that is unique and cannot be duplicated.

It should capture those characteristics of your company that enable delivery of your value again and again. It ought to look something like this:


Or, in ‘real world’ terms:

To engineering hiring managers, Acme’s Engineering Scorecard provides a 10-step process for evaluating candidates for engineering positions, which ensures that new hires scoring eight or above are 85 percent more likely to be successful.

Tag. Are You It?

At Quell, we find that many clients initially gravitate to a desire for a single line that is intended to communicate their brand position. This catchphrase, known as a tagline, is a short collection of words that is supposed to be a memorable summary of their value proposition. If you take nothing else away from this post, understand that a tagline is neither a position nor a positioning statement.

Unfortunately, what some clients fail to realize is that the most ‘memorable’ taglines are usually the ones supported by multi-million dollar advertising budgets. We didn’t know we were supposed to just do it; that a soft drink could make the whole world sing and a computer could help us think different. We were told: over and over and over again.

Here’s a challenge. Think back to the last three meetings you had. Chances are, you exchanged business cards. We’re willing to bet that you can’t remember the tagline that was almost certainly prominently (and proudly) featured. Without the constant repetition and the mega budget, the tagline is usually an artifice that is quickly forgotten.

Lessons Learned

Thinking about taglines vs. positioning and positioning statements, everyone knows and loves “Got Milk?”, right? Right. And that’s the problem. Everyone knows the campaign, but it didn’t result in increased milk consumption. In fact, according to a Huffington Post article, gallons of milk consumed per capita actually declined from 23.9 gallons to 20 gallons during the duration of the campaign. So, it’s a very memorable tagline (again, supported by millions in ad spend) that wasn’t effective.

Compare those results against a campaign that Quell conducted for a leading financial institution. After a careful analysis of its market position, Quell assisted in identifying a uniquely distinctive market position and accompanying positioning statement, leading to the development of a campaign which resulted in more than 16 million digital impressions and a significant increase in new account creation.

Was there a tagline associated with the campaign? Yes. Was it the main point of emphasis and the reason behind our efforts? No. The purpose of the campaign was to effectively position the client to its target market as THE preferred option and to increase new account sign ups.

We’re happy to develop creative and memorable taglines, but not at the expense of the less-visible but more important work of creating bulletproof market positions and supporting positioning statements.

Contact us to learn more.

Disputing The Death of Direct

mailboxWith all due respect to social media and its many flavors, it may be that the death of direct has been exaggerated. While it is true that using direct mail is more time-consuming and expensive than posting on Twitter or even sending an email campaign, the use of direct mail can be an effective complement to many marketing initiatives.

Don’t forget that direct gives you an opportunity to directly deliver your message to your target audience. No spam filter, no distracting web banner, no scroll bar, no ad blocker.

An interesting and attention-getting direct mail campaign will engage the recipient, on average for 3-5 minutes. Compare that to 15 seconds for the average web visitor, eight seconds for the average email, and less than five seconds for an online post (assuming, of course, you got them to look at your message in the first place).

We are not advocating that direct mail is the be-all end-all of marketing. Instead, we suggest that it be actively considered as part of a multi-channel campaign. It is merely one of the tools available in the marketing toolbox.

As has always been the case, the key to success lies in three areas:

  1. List management
  2. Frequency
  3. Recency

From the top, the absolute rule to success is using a great list. It has to be clean, checked and double-checked, and would ideally represent the work of your own internal team. While there is a place for purchased lists (generally as a way to supplement an existing house list or to get started building a list), the best source of all is your own sales team or in-house lead generation activity. Talk about what you know to who you know.

Regular use of attention-getting direct campaigns will solidify your brand in the mind of the recipient. Be sure to use consistent brand cues in your materials; consistency in logo usage, color palette, and creative theme lead to memorability. A multi-touch campaign leads to greater response than a one time drop.

Be sure to consider using a direct mail piece as a mental trigger for more effective sales follow up activities. The dimensional package that was received earlier in the week is much more memorable than the one-off email.

It gives a visual and tactile cue to the recipient that lodges in their memory and provides a ‘hook’ to which the salesperson can refer when they follow up and seek an opportunity to engage in conversation. Having this reference point is more impactful than trying to ask someone to remember an email-based offer for the free article or webinar invitation.

Again, we’re not knocking email-based content, webinars and lead nurturing. Each one of them has their own place in an integrated marketing campaign. There are simply times that a well-executed direct mail campaign is an effective and memorable way to get the attention of your target audience.
Give it some thought and give us a call to discuss how we can assist you in dragging direct away from death’s door.

CEOs Champion the Most Successful Brands – Inside and Out



Strong brands are assets. And whether you believe it or not, the CEO has the greatest responsibility for delivering a brand to market and the greatest burden of proof for its authenticity.

Large publicly traded enterprises, privately held middle market operations and small local businesses alike all benefit when a brand is effectively defined and communicated. When done right, a brand attracts investors, partners and employees and drives profits, stock performance and retention.

To be clear, a brand promise is the statement that identifies for customers what they should expect from all interactions with your people, products and services. And for the brand to be authentic, customers must actually have the promised experience. It is not the name, logo or tagline – those elements represent only the identity portion of the branding mix.

For example, Dell Technology enables its customers to grow and thrive and actively celebrates their achievements with its brand promise “The power to do more.” If you’ve ever flown Southwest Airlines, you’ll likely agree that the promise of “lower fares, more flights and more fun” is delivered at every touch point.

Some key attributes of the brand champion CEO are a willingness to embrace the spotlight, leading by example, setting a path to the promise for employees to follow, and personally listening to what customers have to say.

Embrace the spotlight

More than just providing words on paper or a screen, the CEOs of Dell and Southwest, Michael Dell and Gary Kelly, aren’t afraid to step into the spotlight and champion the brand. They personally drive public relations, cement relationships with customers, communicate regularly via traditional and digital channels, and fight for what the company stands for – even under public scrutiny.

And that’s just what we see on the surface as outsiders looking in.

CEOs that successfully champion the brand must also instill passion and respect for the brand into the organizational mindset and daily routine for all employees.

Set an example and a path to the promise for employees

More than one man or woman at the helm, organizations are an entire ecosystem of leaders and employees doing the work the organization does. How will employees know what to do when the CEO is not in the room?

In addition to leading by example, publicly and internally, successful brand champion CEOs establish fundamental operating philosophies, structures and communication processes that support the brand, and reinforce the expectation that everyone must hold one another accountable for their part in delivering the brand promise. A “brand behavior” reward system might be worth considering.

Firing on all cylinders under the heat of the spotlight, and backed up by an engaged workforce that is traveling along the path laid out for them, the effective brand champion CEO can now rest assured the customers are having a positive and authentic experience. Right?

Well, not exactly.

To be an effective brand champion, the CEO must stay dialed in to customer sentiment, and the best way to do that is to stay personally engaged with the CMO and the extended marketing function.

Personally listen to the customer

Some best practices leading brand champion CEOs such as Dell and Kelly employ to stay connected to the customer experience include personally:

  • attending top-level marketing committee meetings,
  • participating in customer feedback sessions,
  • keeping a finger on the pulse of digital, and
  • commissioning and reviewing marketing reports, analysis and insights.

Traditional one-way brand messages broadcast to a homogeneous audience are losing effectiveness at a time of unprecedented consumer adoption of digital channels – from the web and email to mobile and social media. Digital paves the way for direct consumer relationships that in the past were the domain of sales teams alone. Customers ultimately decide now who wins and loses.

Customers are as much in control of brand meaning and its value in the market as the company itself is. As markets continue to change rapidly and customers continue to gain power, CEOs and marketers must operate as a tightly knit unit to rigorously defend the master brand and must be more adept at making the strategic connection between the corporate boardroom and the customer.

To learn more about how to Unknot, Align and Market a winning brand position, go to

Quality UX For All…Even Decades Later


Our client called with an urgent request to fix their website. One of their most important customers was trying to fill out a form on their website, but it wasn’t working. This came as a huge surprise.


IE4 was released in 1997, pre-dating Google, the Bush presidency and the movie Titanic.

Before launch of the website, the Quell web team thoroughly tested the contact forms, along with all the other functionality on different browsers and operating systems as part of our NASA-like pre-launch checklist. Did an error slip through?

After more discussion with the client, we discovered that the user couldn’t fill out the phone number field in the contact form. We looked through the logs of site visitors, and the user in question stood out like a sore thumb. He was the only visitor still using the outrageously obsolete Internet Explorer 4, which originally launched on Windows 95!

In this extreme case, we ended up changing the way the phone number field is displayed, which allowed that customer to finish filling out the form.

Why Strive for Un-Compatibility

With the ever-moving target of browser compatibility, why not just aim as far back as possible? True, if we had planned for Internet Explorer 4 in the first place, this issue wouldn’t have happened. Ignoring 18 years’ worth of web design advancement would have been a disservice to 99.99% of visitors to the website though.

Take the phone number field as a brief example. In a modern web browser, the phone number field has a few tricks. As you type, it fills in with parentheses and hyphens to format the number. It also checks if it has the right amount of digits when you’re done. This cuts down on mistakes, which could be frustrating for the user and the website owner who would get bad data from the form.

That’s just one small example. Some other tricks in modern web design are things like animated graphics, in-browser video and designs that adapt to different window sizes, which allows for a website to be viewed equally on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Modern touches like these are essential to get high search result scores, and more importantly, to provide a positive experience for your visitors.

The features mentioned above are currently compatible with 96.45% of web users, according to the website Is that enough for your brand?

Achieving Balance: Align Tech With Target Audience

Your target audience is a major factor in determining the level of compatibility that we will attain on a web design project. As a general guideline, web design techniques are available to use about four years after they are first released. That’s enough time for the majority of web users to upgrade to compatible software.

There’s a little more to it than that though. Waiting for the majority of users to upgrade might not be important in every case. One of our clients has a web-based tool that they use for sales presentations on a select few employee computers. In this case, it made sense to use the best possible method to achieve the goal of the sales tool, and make sure the computers are compatible later.

On the other hand, a website might be used primarily by shop supervisors looking to order more industrial supplies. In that case, it might be difficult or even dangerous to update the computers there, due to worries about losing compatibility with hardware and equipment. In this case, it is wise to scale back on the technology overhead as a precaution against legacy operating systems and browsers.

As part of the web design process, The Quell Group uses a website planner. In it, we work with you to understand the goals of the website, the target audience, the scope, features, photography, and much more. Together, we will find the perfect balance between compatibility and a rich set of features that will make you stand out from the competition.

From this holiday’s jolliest bunch…

Quell 2014 Holiday CardAh, the annual company holiday greeting card job. Always fun, always a challenge. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to design many cards for many organizations, holiday themed and otherwise. But this year’s holiday card for The Quell Group is easily my favorite.

Fact: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. Actually, I believe it to be one of the finest cinematic achievements ever by human beings. No exaggeration. The decision to base our holiday card on this theme was just logical, really. I mean, what else would we do? Ugly Christmas sweaters? Quellies parading about in matching Christmas pajamas? To be honest, both of these ideas came up in the brainstorm session. Pretty sure we made the right call.

Illustrated cards depicting Quellie caricatures has become somewhat of a tradition around here — one that I was happy to carry on with Griswold-like enthusiasm. As always, I started with a few quick sketches for composition and positioning. Then it was just a simple matter of creating detailed caricatures of each Quell employee, plus one.

I’m a traditional guy. Pencil, pen and ink work best for me. Once the initial ink work was complete, I scanned the drawing and brought it into Photoshop for color. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of color digitally, “painting” with my tablet. I find this technique to be fun and efficient as you can easily adjust layers, change colors, undo mistakes, etc.

The gag wouldn’t be complete without the lit-up house. That’s the punchline. Again, an ink drawing of Quell HQ, painted digitally and adorned with a ridiculous amount of lights. The exploding Santa decoration was admittedly an afterthought, but a great idea with tons of impact on the overall piece. Very funny.

A perfectly written holiday greeting, penned by Mike and Robin personally, and there you have it: the greatest company holiday card of all time, if we do say so ourselves.

Merry Christmas everyone! Save the neck for me!

Hip to Be Square

By Aron Lawrence

Recently, a Minecraft player released images of an extremely intricate city scene he created solely with the default tools of the game. Even with access to today’s advanced 3D design programs, there’s a timeless appeal to creating something great out of simple pieces.

For some, the appeal comes from the effort it takes to work with a restricted palette. A photo-realistic cityscape can be made with Element 3D, a plugin for the popular motion graphics program After Effects, within a span of a few minutes. It’s technically impressive, and if handled correctly, it can pass for actual footage shot from a helicopter. On the other hand, it lacks the character and personality of a real shot. Creating a much more rudimentary scene block-by-block in Minecraft can take years. Looking at it, one can consider the attention to detail, the craftsmanship and the passion that goes into making such a piece.

For others, it’s more about nostalgia. In the early days of video games, character sprites were made of a few dozen blocky pixels. They were basic and almost featureless, but had charm and originality.

Today, the kids who grew up in beginning of that era are approaching 40.  Video gaming has become a widespread cultural phenomenon that spans generations. The work once considered crude and utilitarian is now regarded as an art form in its own right. The Flint Institute of Arts is currently exhibiting The Art of Video Games, which “sheds light on the prevalent and increasing nature of [the video game] medium within modern society.”

Digital art took decades to get to the point where artists could make whatever they could imagine. Photorealism is in the reach of many artists in the field. However, the minimalist appeal of a simple block- or pixel-based piece still captures the imagination of many. New video games are being released in classic pixel-based style for this reason. Posters and t-shirts with pixel designs are considered retro cool.

Despite its humble origins, pixel art has evolved into a respected niche. The art of video games has become part of Western culture, and will continue to influence mainstream art and design for years to come. At Quell, we stay on top of current design trends so that we can offer a multitude of options for our clients. From flat design to pixel art to 3D animation, our design team has the capabilities to make your brand’s communications stand out creatively.

by Aron Lawrence

Automated Marketing, inbound fuel 2015 marketing budgets

The next big thing for 2015 Marketing and Communications budgets (especially B2B). Lower the cost and time it takes to generate leads.

By Joseph J. Serwach

Automated marketing – done well – is the next “big thing” for 2015 marketing and communications budgets, allowing organizations (especially B2B) to lower the cost and time it takes to generate leads and customers.

A majority of tech companies already use automated marketing and inbound strategies to drive marketing, sales and customer relationship efforts. Adoption rates are soaring as the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use.

Automated strategies allow to accurately recommend books and movies you’ll want to buy. They’ve learned your tastes and interests through years of online relationship-building.

A Michigan example: Kalamazoo-based Goodbye Crutches shifted from paying people to click on their website (via online advertising) to an inbound strategy using marketing automation. They wound up replacing their ads with less expensive online brand-building  (establishing thought leadership with helpful content including blogs, social media, landing pages, ebooks, etc.).

The result: Goodbye Crutches saw its web traffic leap from 3,000 visitors per month to 52,000 visitors per month.

How marketing automation grows brand relationships

In mid-September, I was sitting near a pool in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, went to Google and typed “Myrtle Beach International Airport.”
Educate, Inform, Help
The first search result, courtesy of Google Flights, told me my flight home was delayed by two hours. Later refreshes told me the delay would be three hours. That information gave me three extra hours to enjoy the beach on a sunny, 85 degree day rather than getting stuck waiting at an airport.

Did such marketing automation make me love and value my relationship with the Google brand? Of course.

Any time your brand educates, informs or helps a customer or potential customer, you’re moving them from stranger to visitor or from visitor to friend or from like to love.

Relationships first, tech second

Relationships first, tech secondToo many early adopters focus on – or get apprehensive about – new technology even as marketing technology gets cheaper and easier to use.

Too often, businesses buy the new “latest thing” and then aren’t quite sure how to use it effectively or (worse) they put off buying it until all their competitors already have it.

The focus needs to remain on the classic brand-building and relationship building that really makes these new tools deliver powerful returns on investment.  The tool (the technology) simply speeds up the process.

PR, marketers are both chasing marketing automation

HubSpot, which dominates automated marketing and inbound, soared during its first IPO last week. HubSpot partners with strong agencies that make the technology work for client brand-building efforts, growing web traffic and online leads via inbound marketing.

Meanwhile, PR software provider Vocus, and others are also offering their own automated marketing products.

Top source of leads.

Top Source of Leads

The just-released State of Inbound 2014 report found 83 percent of marketers were practicing some form of inbound strategy this year (up from 60 percent in 2013) and a full 45 percent cited inbound as their top source of leads.

Inbound ties together a number of “owned media” digital tools including blog and other content creation, landing pages that convert contacts/leads into customers, webinars, social media, emailers, video, e-books, webinars and freemium trials.

In short, inbound is the traffic you draw to you – as opposed to outbound messages you send out. Both start with solid integrated brand communications.

Just this year, Mike’s Hard Lemonade joined Costco and numerous other brands by announcing it was replacing online advertising with a focus on organically building digital interactions.

Inbound replicates the Costco Strategy: Costco is famous for giving shoppers free samples and delighting them with new products and special deals. Inbound marketers, similarly, offer “free samples” of their expertise, educating and informing them and building relationships online. Amazon, for example, offers free sample chapters of most of the books it sells.

Opportunity? Beating most rivals to the punch

While a majority of tech companies already use marketing automation, the market is wide open in other markets:

Beat rivals to the punch

Imagine knowing all sorts of details about a prospect that your rivals have no clue about. Such details help you beat the competition every time.

How does automated marketing work?

Instead of having various people say you “need’’ this tool or that tool, automated marketing organizes the various tools together into one simple, digital hub.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt notes there is more content created in a 48 hour period than there was between the dawn of time and the year 2000. For Google, that means 5 billion searches per day with 20 percent being for something Google has never been asked before.

For media, that means the 20th century introduced radio, TV, telemarketing and junk mail while the 21st century has (so far) introduced such new platforms as mobile SMS, pop-up ads, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, native advertising, etc.

Marketing automation sorts all that big data out and helps you personalize digital relationships giving every prospect what they need, learning about them, educating them and growing relationships.

Sales research shows that 80 percent of sales occur between the fifth and 12th time you interact with a prospect. You can’t call or email someone five days in a row without seeming annoying but it is simple to call one day, email another and use digital media to build the relationship, using marketing automation to track everything.

At the same time, 60-70 percent of the buying journey now occurs digitally as people use their phones, tablets and computers to look things up before, after (and sometimes during) your meetings with them.

The difference between marketing automation and no automation? It’s like the difference between driving at night and driving at night with your headlights on.


Here’s to you, Handlebar Mustache Guy…

By Justin Rose

The Quell Group is excited to have recently partnered with Detroit Metro Times on a number of creative projects.  This week, we helped design the cover of DMT’s “Drink” issue, celebrating “Detroit’s effervescent drinking scene.”  

With intoxicating subject matter like that, it’s hard not to come to up with a variety of creative concepts.  We sketched and discussed, then sketched some more until we settled on a retro theme, styled after the opening credits of the classic ‘80s sitcom “Cheers.”

Best quote of the week has to go to DMT editor-in-chief Valerie Vande Panne who informed us, “The 1890s are in right now.”

By all accounts, it appears that the editor-in-chief is correct in her pop culture assessment.

Head down to Detroit’s Eastern Market on any given Saturday morning and just try to count the beards and handle-bar mustaches.  The Steam Punk craze continues to grow in popularity, engaging new recruits and veteran fans alike.  All-in-all, it seems like the DMT editorial staff continues to have its finger on the pulse of the prevailing cultural phemonena in our region and beyond.  When the experts speak, we listen.

From a design perspective, we had clear direction. We started researching the “Cheers” TV show logo, then styled the “Drink” headline after that.

Next, we toyed with the idea of creating an original illustration to support the concept. And while that would have been fun, we stumbled upon this great picture of workers outside of the Ann Arbor brewery while researching a photo reference.

Awesome pic, local connection, dudes in bowler hats and curled mustaches drinking beers – vintage Valerie’s 1890.  A quick check of ownership, licensing restrictions and all the proper legalese, and we were free to use and distribute.  Put it all together and result is a unique effect that captures the essence of the issue’s drinking tribute.

Pick up this week’s issue of Detroit Metro Times, likely located outside your favorite drinking establishment where everybody knows your name.

Here’s to you Metro Detroit, Cheers.

Tough Times for Ol’ Flash


Quell FlashStay in shape with these promising new options for Flash addicts

By Aron Lawrence

It’s been a tough decade for Adobe Flash animators.

When I was in high school 10 years ago, it was considered cutting edge and sophisticated to design an entire website in Flash. My personal portfolio was done in Flash, with every element on the page painstakingly animated. I thought it was really cool! Cool, yes, but not search-engine friendly, responsive to different browser sizes or compatible with mobile devices.

Flash was soon considered taboo and out-of-date, and there weren’t any other accessible options. Designers lost the ability to animate for the web entirely.

Thanks to new technology, that’s finally changed. Quell’s creative team recently tested three promising options for HTML5-compliant animation for your review.

Adobe Flash. The first, surprisingly, is Adobe Flash CC 2014.  For anyone who hasn’t opened Flash in a while, there’s now an “HTML Canvas’ option, which will allow you to work natively in HTML5. It still uses the same familiar tools unique to Flash. In past versions, Flash had an option to convert a SWF document to HTML and JavaScript, but there were a lot of compatibility issues. We’ve found that to no longer be a problem.

Adobe Edge. We next tried Adobe Edge CC 2014. This is a recent addition to the Adobe line-up, built from the ground up for HTML5-compatible animation. It’s a tougher transition for a former Flash designer, but it’s a great option. The only problem is that it outputs some really crazy code, which is nearly impossible to edit by hand.

CSS3. Speaking of editing by hand, we also tried animating with CSS3 transitions, complemented with jQuery. This is a fun and exciting new way to easily add some simple animation to a website without having to import from another program.

This option has a few issues: it has somewhat limited compatibility and is difficulty to visualize. Writing ‘.3s ease’ just isn’t the same as having a timeline to work with.

Despite a few hiccups and limitations, we’re glad to report that it’s finally safe for Flash animators to re-enter the design world. No longer is it in bad taste to Flash your creative team, they might even join.

For anyone still on the fence about transitioning away from Flash, be assured the software is finally ready. Give it a try. It might make you just as cool and sophisticated as you (thought you) were in 2004.



Distinct words help elevate brands

Connect with readers by using words we know and trust

We’re all too familiar with those lists of banned words that circulate after every New Year. Taboo terms gagged for 2014 including selfie, twerking, hashtag, twittersphere, and the suffixes –addedon and –pocalyse.  Other words nixed from corporate speak include:

  • Innovative
  • Synergy
  • Solutions
  • Revolutionary
  • Iconic
  • Hi-tech
  • World-class

Words like these bark at readers, “We’re too lazy to come up with distinct terms that uniquely describe this brand.”

Case in point:

A certain global design consultancy describes its creative process this way:

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

Wow. A certain carmaker uses this phrase to describe its innovation:

“We have always been driven by bold imagination and focused, disciplined action to realize the power of those ideas. It is part of our DNA to realize technology’s potential for positive change and to share that vision with the world.”

Compare those two examples with this advertising language for an everyday product most of us use.

“You want a weed eater that can reach all the places your mower can’t, one that won’t damage the trees and shrubs on your property; that’s easy to start but safe enough for the 14-year-old neighbor kid to use.”

What’s so hard about that? Apparently, everything.

Terms like these actually create parity among competitors. If your product is advanced, I’ll call mine revolutionary. Last year’s “out of the box” is this year’s “unparalleled.” If every company is hi-tech, innovative, world class, cutting edge and unparalleled, doesn’t common sense conclude that none of them are?

Using banal words can insult a reader and put a brand at risk. Such empty terms commoditize a product and diminish its overall value.

So what is the substitute for corporate pseudo-speak? Perhaps the real problem exists, not in the language, but in the branding. Quell eliminates these nonsense words using its unique process called Unknot. Align. Market.®  Quell captures what makes a brand distinct and then creates a unique brand language that becomes the foundation for memorable story telling. The Quell Group insists on using words that are unmistakable to a brand, rather than falling into the trap of corporate clichés, bromides and overworked phrases that do nothing to elevate a brand. Our words create preference for a brand and separation from the pack.

Case in point:

When Apple launched its iPod, thousands of superlative terms could have been used to describe it, such as game changing, revolutionary, first-in-class, exceptional, extraordinary and unconventional.

But instead Apple chose four words and a number:  “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Simple. Credible. And undeniably unique.

Best of all, these are real words people use in everyday life, but crafted in a way that no one can mimic.

Part of a brand’s identity is its idiomatic language. While tone is equally important, building a glossary of terms is essential when building a strong brand. Many great examples come to mind. The following list of words can only belong to the Disney brand:

  • Magic
  • Kingdom
  • Fantasy
  • Dreams
  • Imagination

Kellogg owns such terms as sugar, frosted, crunch, snap, crackle and pop. KFC owns colonel, original, recipe, secret, bucket and crispy. No carmaker owns “safety” like Volvo, “engineered” like Porsche and “luxury” like Mercedes.

Like a cart before a horse, words without meaning have no power. The first step in talking about a brand is identifying what makes it unique. Once that niche is identified, it’s time to build a glossary of terms your brand can own. Just remember, golden, arches, coca and the prefix i- are already taken.