The Language of Brands

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 12a
April 1, 2018

By Dan Coughlin

Over the past month I’ve been enamored with the writing of Sally Hogshead, who has essentially created her own language on the language of personal and organizational branding.

She began her career as a masterful copywriter for major brands. She quickly won major awards. And then on her way to mothering eight children she created her own scientific approach to building a brand.

I recommend her books, Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist and How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value through the Science of Fascination. I also recommend her websites:,, and

And now I’ll share with you a little of what I’ve learned from her. Of course, I recommend that you go to the expert, Sally Hogshead, to learn in her own words and in great detail the concepts within this approach.

We All Communicate in Specific Ways

Sally teaches that there are seven primary ways that individuals and organizations communicate. They are:

  • The Language of Creativity (INNOVATION)
  • The Language of Relationship (PASSION)
  • The Language of Confidence (POWER)
  • The Language of Excellence (PRESTIGE)
  • The Language of Stability (TRUST)
  • The Language of Listening (MYSTIQUE)
  • The Language of Details (ALERT)

When any two of these languages are combined, they become the 49 archetypes, which Sally explains in depth in her book, How the World Sees You.

She explains that we all have as individuals and as organizations a Primary Fascination Advantage and a Secondary Fascination Advantage. You can actually take a free test to gain a sense of your advantages as an individual or as an organization.

Just go to and enter the code: AnyPersonMindset for a free assessment.

Now let’s pause here. She gives a ton of depth on these ideas in her books and websites, but I want to pause here to reflect on what this means, at least to me.

My Understanding of What I’ve Learned

The language of how we communicate. I’ve never thought of it that way before. The key is to understand the two languages we use to communicate when we are at our best, and then intentionally communicate those languages more often.

We could have ten people in a meeting, and each of them could be talking in a different combination of languages.

You could buy a type of product or service from ten different organizations, and they could each talk in a different combination of languages.

So now let me highlight two quotes from Sally:

“The greatest value you can add is to become more of yourself,” and “To become more successful, don’t change who you are. Become more of who you are.”

Of course, that means we first have to understand how we communicate effectively in order to do it more often.

Think About the Language You Communicate

Pause for a moment and reflect on the words you consistently use when speaking at work. Think about your tone, speed, and volume.

Now ask yourself, “When I’m being most effective, which two of the languages above do I use the most?”

You might say, “I use the language of details and creativity the most,” or “I use the language of relationships and excellence the most.”

Whatever your answer is try to intentionally use those two languages even more often.

Same with your organization. What two languages does your organization use most effectively when communicating with customers and potential customers? Now intentionally use those languages more often.

Put these Concepts to a Test

Think of individuals and organizations you admire, and then see if you can detect their two main languages.

These are just my own answers:

Roger Federer: the languages of excellence and details. His tennis performance is excellence, but he always talks about the amount of hard work that goes into preparing for every tournament.

Martin Luther King, Jr: the languages of confidence and relationships. “I have a dream that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Apple: the languages of creativity and details. I expect every commercial, every phone call, every visit to the Apple store, and every product to be creative and detail-oriented. And they almost never disappoint me.

If you’re like me, you will start to see people and organizations through the lens of Sally Hogshead’s language of brands. The more you understand this language, the more you can intentionally apply this in your work for yourself and your organization.




Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

Back to Newsletter Page