The Rhythm of your Brand: On Punctuation

Punctuation provides the meter for written language. It tells us when to start and stop, when to linger, when to await a dramatic flourish (it can even whisper an aside).

The space — between words, between paragraphs — is perhaps the most basic punctuation, telling us when words start and stop. Space lends coherence, visually and conceptually. Otherwisethingscangetmessy.

The semi-colon is so exquisite; combining both a period and a comma, it marks a full stop and a pause.

The colon, two big spotlights, dramatically declares: heed this.

Commas, often over or under used, can temper an idea.

Where would we be without the question mark? It is an open invitation to the reader.

And, oh, the exclamation point! It can lend poignance and passion to even the most quotidian of utterances.

The dash — perhaps like the parentheses (yet without parenthetical discretion) — lets us flesh and flush out what might have been too thin.

The right punctuation, in the right place, can make language falter or sing.

What's the meter of your brand? What's its rhythm?

Words Perform a Brand

Sometimes, when we say something, we're doing something else entirely. For instance, what happens when I say, "I'm cool"? Well, I've established that I am, in fact, not cool: to say you're cool means you're anything but.

Words never solely state. Words do. They perform all sorts of functions: they excite, provoke, tantalize, assure, inspire. They confuse and obscure; they enlighten.

A writer tends to his performance as much as he tends to his words. Say you're naming a product that is supposed to be easy to use. You can find a word that means easy — "simplio" or "eezee." But you can also create a name that is easy to say, easy to think, easy to use: "Wawa."

The trick to creating powerful language for a brand is to make the words perform the brand, to make the words be the brand, not just state the brand.