All new technology should share a common goal – to stretch the boundaries of existing purpose and perception, either by inventing new terminology or by giving new meaning to existing vernacular.
New technology demands a new role and new language
The need to stretch the boundaries of existing language follows from the fact that if something is truly innovative and unique, whether a technology, a product or a service, the precise vocabulary may not exist to do it justice.
This means that, unless you create an entirely new role and value for that technology, it is unlikely that it will be seen as truly innovative because language has a way of grounding a topic and ‘making sense of things’: vocabulary is the social representation of an actual object.
Imagine if the words “PC,” “email,” “software” and “web browser” didn’t exist. Without them, even the most simple tasks would be challenging to explain, yet they have been added to our vocabulary so recently that many of us can remember a time when those words didn’t exist.
So, here’s the challenge! If your tech is doing something completely new and ‘out there’, consider the following:
- “Borrowing” expressions from other disciplines, industries or peer-to-peer technical groups – the danger here is that this is a form of imitation…
- Exploring new words and phrases to best describe what is truly unique about your product
But it’s important to accept that not everything can be new. Sometimes differentiation can simply come from doing the same things better. Finding an advantage in the small stuff. Creating real value where using the word ‘new’ simply isn’t an option.
It’s also hugely important that we understand who it is we’re talking to and how far this new language might carry or alienate potential customers. No one ever invested in, got excited about or fully committed to anything that was similar to something else. There’s no future in being one of the crowd- apart from fighting over a decreasing market share.
Great marketing communications shines a light on what’s different on two levels
- Create own-able words and phrases that ensure your technology is perceived as unique – and protect them if you can
- Support a role in the market or purpose that may benefit humankind beyond the rational benefits
However, if you do choose to introduce new vocabulary in the branding process, always remember your customer. Never assume that anybody else knows or understands it until you have demonstrated and explained what the new narrative means.
The balancing act
It’s simple really! Make it crystal clear that what you are offering is unique—it is essential to attract the early adopters —and is relevant, which means that you have to offer context to which your target customer can relate.
Don’t forget: pictures matter!
While the choice of vocabulary is important to your product’s newness, so is visual representation; packaging, logo, website, product design, brochures and advertising. If you can tell a story without the need to translate into the usual seven languages, you will have succeeded where others consistently fail!
Visual representation can either facilitate and strengthen the sense of uniqueness or can completely undermine it by communicating something at odds with the language – the non-verbal must always align with the verbal.
Use what’s different about your new technology as the starting point to generate new language
Any new language for your technology should be grounded in the real world. A truly innovative product delivers unique results that are either cheaper, faster, better or more convenient than anything else around.
It is the description of those differences and how your product is benefitting not only markets, but also communities that is your starting point for generating new language.
Most technical innovators and inventors struggle with this – it is the job of the market communicators to help them!