The Power of Words in Branding, Sara Novicic  –  Decisions, Hypnosis, & Branding, Jessica Gerlach Petrovic  –  White Hats, Black Hats, Chris Farmer – Readings


Vol. I, Issue 7   –   December 2016

The Power of Words in Branding

by Sara Novicic


Newcomers to the branding industry sometimes make the mistake of eagerly devoting all of their creative thought and energy into building a strong visual identity.

The appeal of visuals is indisputable, yet focusing solely (or mostly) on just the one aspect of your brand could lead to miscommunication of the brand’s core messages.

Language is by far the most effective way to communicate, although many art forms have come to life as a result of the human need to convey even deeper, more abstract thoughts, feelings and beliefs, those that words could never fully grasp and deliver.

Despite the limitations of the spoken and written word, its power to build, mend, strengthen and maintain an emotional connection between the speaker and the intended recipient is incredible and often underestimated.

On the other hand, focusing on using words simply to deliver a message can get you to success in that aspect of your branding, but it will not guarantee you any kind of emotional bond between your brand and your client. Making a textbook sample of content to truthfully describe what your company does will certainly do the trick, but will it bring a smile to the reader’s face?

Will it make them remember you and return? Will the words related to your brand produce a distinct emotion in the reader’s mind?

How, then, do you use language to your advantage? Remember that brands are evolving creatures, much like we are, and so is our language, and that is why it is crucial to keep in mind that change is a natural step that is necessary for any brand to not just survive, but bloom in any given time and circumstance. Do not be afraid to change the way your brand speaks to its audience, and always keep it simple.

Simple is Not Easy

In fact, simplicity and brevity are the two key moments in making your brand’s expression believable, persuasive and memorable. Lengthy texts, both spoken and written, will not be as powerful as the short, direct ones.

Our brains are determined to find understanding through the shortest possible route, so they will skip words in a text that are not crucial for meaning. Plenty of adjectives can thus lead to less understanding, no matter how hard you try to make your brand sound juicy, unique, exciting or empowering. Effective storytelling is the true mark of a successful brand.

If you make your brand evoke these images and many others with the use of active, inclusive verbs and short statements that invite the reader to take action or take part in something, whether it is consuming your product or acquiring your services, then your brand gives the power and control to the consumer. This makes them feel relevant and it brings an element of participation in creating your brand, as opposed to merely offering and pushing something on the reader.

The “pull” effect of branding is reflected in every word you choose to represent its identity, online and offline. These words will end up being the key descriptors of your brand in the minds of your consumers. Language will be the determining factor as to whether or not your brand becomes an indelible portion of who they are, as much as whether or not they will perceive themselves as the creators and emissaries of your brand in the world.

Decisions, Hypnosis, and Branding

by Jessica Gerlach Petrovic

Hypnosis is not a new concept at all. It has been around for ages and has been documented since prehistoric times. Essentially, hypnosis can be used for a wide array of ailments – physical and mental, although its effectiveness does not stop there.

Hypnosis can actually rewire the brain, inspire insight, heal, and positively influence behavior. The thing that most of the general public does not know about hypnosis is that, while in a hypnotic state, you will not do anything you’re morally incompatible with. In other words, hypnosis cannot make you do something your subconscious mind is not in agreement with.

The relationship between branding and hypnosis really comes as no surprise since the art of branding and hypnosis work with the subconscious element of the mind – the emotions in particular. The decisions people make, for example, are driven by the subconscious mind – an emotional place and less logical. Herein lies the connection between branding and hypnosis, as well as, the potential for its effectiveness when combined.

Take into consideration the fact we slip in and out of hypnosis numerous times per day. Driving your car, a.k.a. “zoning out”, is a prime example of drifting into a state of hypnosis without even realizing it. Whether you are daydreaming, listening to music, or watching television – all of these activities can trigger a hypnotic state. It’s not as scary as you may think. It is quite natural and very common.

In this unintentional hypnotic state, our suggestibility is heightened greatly. You can imagine then how effective the intentional use of hypnosis can be. But this shouldn’t be confused with manipulation because in hypnosis, you are in full control.

One of the more negative associations people have about hypnosis is something called subliminal messaging. Subliminal by definition means “impossible or difficult to perceive by the mind or senses.” In subliminal messages, it is true that there are tactics used to create an emotional response, such as flashing words, colors, and/or sounds, which create an emotional and behavioral response. Unfortunately, this type of “mind control” can cause negative reactions in individuals such as fear, high blood pressure, stress, and confusion, without your even realizing what is causing it.

Subliminal messaging is the ultimate manipulation tactic, and one which can be quite frightening once you come to understand it and how it works. Nevertheless, understanding it can be empowering and inspire awareness of its existence. It is good to know what to look out for.

Then there is hypnosis. It is very different. Hypnosis can be used to assist in directing the mind to what you truly desire. Hypnosis can be used as an alternative therapy to help those who suffer from emotional trauma, unwanted habits, mood swings, and difficulty in decision-making. The decision-making niche in particular is where hypnosis’ “language” can be applied to branding.

Many people find it difficult to choose a brand when they lack any previous experience with a certain product, service, or individual. Hypnosis’ language can help to create an association in the mind to either encourage or discourage you to relate to the brand. It evokes the imagination, which belongs to you, unlike subliminal messaging which makes you feel undesirable emotions. You can see now how different these two approaches are.

You. Because. Imagine

Three powerful words in hypnosis, for example, are you, because, and imagine. Using the word you is especially important because it automatically individualizes the topic at hand. It encourages you to ask yourself, “Where do you see yourself in this?” Because is an extremely effective word since the mind does not like unanswered questions. Essentially, using the word because can help close an open question, if they can relate the ‘because’ that you’ve provided them with. This, again, assists in allowing one to make up his or her mind – if they are “with” you or not.

Let’s take a look at one good example. L’Oréal’s slogan: “Because you’re worth it.” Here, you are already placed in the story (personalization) and the reason you may choose this is given, which is because you’re worth it. It’s so simple yet incredibly effective.

The third word, imagine, is fairly self-explanatory. You are simply asking your demographic to imagine something. When we imagine, we feel, and if we feel, we react. If I ask you right now to imagine biting into a juicy strawberry, what happens? Your mouth starts to water, correct? So what happens if I ask you to imagine waking up to the sound of the sea instead of the sound traffic? That is quite enticing, isn’t it? But it doesn’t force anything upon you. It simply allows you to make up your own mind- because it should be your choice instead of a manipulation. And your imagination belongs solely to you.

Hypnosis in branding is one of those topics that can potentially ruffle a few feathers, not to mention hypnosis on its own. This is understandable since many people are quick to judge something they don’t fully understand, or may simply have a few misconceptions about. We are all guilty of being too quick to judge at some point or another but ultimately, I hope to open the minds of the skeptics. Increased awareness on what still surprisingly seems to be a somewhat taboo topic can help demystify hypnosis and allow it to be used beneficially in branding.

White Hats, Black Hats:
The Myth of Duality in Presidential Campaigns


by Chris Farmer

The world, as we like to view it, is made of Good Guys and Bad Guys.

As a child, we used to play Cops and Robbers. We played Cowboys and Indians. There was never any question about who were the Good Guys and who were the Bad Guys. No shades of grey. No anti-heroes with conflicted inner turmoil. No middle ground.

It is an easy way to see the world.

And while the American voting public should never be characterized as being this simplistic, it does seem to be a pattern in how we choose and support our presidential campaigns, especially in the absence of a clear leader.


In the 2016 presidential campaigns, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats produced an inspirational candidate, one that the nation could stand behind and call our own. Instead we got Trump and Clinton, a demagogue and an heir apparent. How do we choose who gets the White Hat and who gets the Black Hat when neither seems to fit anyone?

hillary-clinton-thumbs-upThis is called a “false dilemma”. The false dilemma is a question that has many possible solutions or answers, but only two are presented as choices. The false dilemma is the basis of US presidential races. We go through primaries and caucuses in order to weed out the weaklings, setting ourselves up for a dichotomy that could have been a plurality.

But we want our Good Guys and Bad Guys.

Like Coke and Pepsi, whose differences are as infinitesimal as the importance of choosing one over the other, we tend to brand our politicians against each other. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was an ultra-rightist fanatic (according to the Democrats), and Mike Dukakis was a weak releaser of murderers (according to the Republicans). One was Coke to the other’s Pepsi and we HAD to choose.

Hope vs. Fear

In 2016, faced with two unqualified candidates, the false dilemma was one of Hope against Fear.

hillary_clinton_yellHeir apparent to the neo-liberal elite establishment, Hillary Clinton, wanted to trade on Hope. She wanted us to hope for a better future, to hope that we would elect the first woman to the Oval Office, to hope that civil liberties would triumph over the Patriot Act. She was the White Hat.

donald-trump-grow-upDonald Trump, however, knew better. He knew that the most valuable commodity on the market was fear. He admonished us to “make America great again,” meaning that now things were  terrible. He tapped into something primal in the American psyche that feared our slipping into second place, being the number two superpower, being a weak economy. He traded on the fear that people around the world disrespected our weakness. And (cleverly) he did not put on the white hat, but he crowned Hillary with the Black Hat.

The Trump campaign did not spend millions on television spots and Big Marketing. They spent a few hundred thousand on the social media. They used free media coverage of an outrageous candidate. They leaned back on the rumor mill of Twitter and Facebook. But every statement he made, no matter how insane it sounded on the face of things, underlined his strength. He became the candidate who feared nothing and no one. He showed America that, as president, the United States would be as unashamedly and brazenly tough as he was.

In the face of that, Hillary could do very little. She could not be as crazy as he was, so it always appeared that she was on the defensive (Error 1). Despite all of the controversy and allegations made against Trump, he never apologized for or justified his actions. Hillary felt she should explain sometimes (Error 2).

Hillary talked to people. Trump talked to large crowds. Hillary touted her record. Trump trusted his success. In the debates, both of them played fast and loose with the facts – precisely because they did not appear to know them – and chose instead to go negative. She said. He said.

The false dilemma arose from these ashes.

By the end, the American voting public went to the polls with a handful of dusty hope for maybe making things better from HRC and a large heavy DJT-monogrammed suitcase of fear for what could happen to their country and their lives. In an environment in which everything seems wrong and confusing, fear will win every time.

Eight years ago, Obama rode into office on a mandate of Hope. But it was not so much for him as a person, but for the messianic figure we made him. He would save us, we thought. Hillary was not big enough for that. She did not show us the way. She seemed to push through her campaign as if it were a formality, that it was her turn and that she deserved it.

Who are the White Hats and who are the Black Hats? Encouragingly, the American people largely refused the question, with 45% of eligible voters staying home. This is a 20-year low, according to CNN. But the 55% who did vote bought gladly into the false dilemma.

They voted in the big-mouthed, bigoted bully because they were afraid of what would happen with more mealy-mouthed liberal elitism.


Why You Should Focus on ‘Different’ and ‘Better,’ Not ‘More’

Simplicity: What Leading Brand Thinkers Really Think