How To Use Languaging To Name, Frame, And Claim Your Category

Languaging is essential for Category Designers because it tweaks the ear to listen and consider the different. Here's how to use it to frame, name, and claim a category.

Whenever language is bent, it tweaks the ear to listen and consider the different.

This is called Languaging—the strategic use of language to change thinking.

Languaging is essential for Category Designers because if you can’t write what you’re thinking, then you aren’t thinking clearly. And if you aren’t thinking clearly, then how are you going to change the way the reader, customer, consumer, or user thinks? You wont.

Unless you learn the fundamentals of Languaging.

Languaging is about creating distinctions between old and new, same and different.

Languaging changes the way people perceive the thing they’re looking at.

  • Henry Ford called the first vehicle a “horseless carriage,” not a faster horse.
  • Sara Blakely invented “Spanx,” not better shapewear.
  • You and your friends go to “brunch,” not a late breakfast.

If done well, languaging has the potential to reflect the unspoken qualities of your category point of view.

Category Designers deliberately use Languaging to do a few things:

  1. To differentiate themselves from any and all competition through word choice, tone, and nuance.
  2. To speak to (and speak “like”) the customers they want to attract—especially the Superconsumers of the category.
  3. To further establish their position in the category they are designing or redesigning.
  4. To insinuate and give context to the rest of the 8 levers: price, profit model, branding, etc., and how the company executes any number of them in a different way.

And it all starts with your point of view.

Your point of view of a category is what “hooks” the customer, and the language you use reflects your POV.

A POV is, “What do we stand for?” Languaging is, “How do we powerfully communicate our POV?” And messaging is, “What should we say?”

When languaging is executed successfully, and is reflective of a well-defined POV of the category, two things happen.

  1. You become known for the new language you’ve invented.
  2. Customers don’t see you as “better.” They see you as different.

Your POV, and the language you use to reflect it, make your “messaging” inspire customers to take action—not the other way around. You know this is working when customers start using the language you created.

All legendary Languaging represents 1 of 4 math equations.

Too many marketers, executives, founders, and even venture capital firms think the words a company uses are all about “standing out.”

But Languaging is often more about who the brand, product, and company is NOT for than who the brand is for. And if your Languaging does not tell one of four story arcs, no one is going to listen to what you have to say.

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division

You are responsible not just for strategically using new words to frame new problems (or reframe old problems), but also reveal whether the slope is positive or negative — are the numbers going up or down? Where is this story going? And your ability to comprehend and communicate that slope is what makes your Languaging matter.

Learn how to apply these 4 equations in our mini-book Languaging: The Strategic Use Of Language To Change Thinking.