04/18/2011 06:31 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2011

How to Build a Brand Without...


They're how I make my living.

But more and more, I believe the strong brands of the future will need to strip away words and rely on visual communication.

It's simple math, if you consider the rising economic powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China. All countries that don't speak English as a first language.

Having worked in China, I know that back-translations miss the mark when it comes to cultural nuances. It's hard to speak to consumers, even if you share a mother tongue. Try it in a foreign language, and it's nearly impossible.

So what's the solution? Do away with words.

The point was hammered home this week when I was notified several of my campaigns had been chosen to appear in Touch, a Chinese magazine.

If you look at the work, you'll see words don't get in the way of comprehension. The words merely support the message. They could be translated by a computer without losing any communication magic.

The death of writing?

So will writing simply disappear? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Alongside visual communication, social interaction and sustainability are two pillars of futureproof brands. And both require layer upon layer of information to satisfy consumers.

Teressa Iezzi writes in her new book The Idea Writers that the traditional role of copywriter may have imploded, but a greatly expanded role for wordsmiths is already manifesting itself.

As our lives become more and more frantic, more and more digital, there is a yearning for good old-fashioned writing.

What can a writer do?

Truth is, the traditional copywriter role is dying. But if you're open to exploring new avenues, the future for you and your word process program looks rosy.

A few thoughtstarters:

1. Advertising social media is about listening, adapting, and fitting into consumer conversations. It requires writers who understand psychology, are quick on their feet, and enjoy dialogue as much as monologue. Iezzi notes that many digital agencies on the rise are looking to bloggers, writers, and those adept at carrying a written conversation for creative leadership.

2. Good brand strategy demands stories. Where did the brand come from, and where is it going to? Any copywriter worth his salt is adept at distilling brand information and putting it into a form that is simple and alluring. If you see a brand that keeps shifting with the wind, there's a good chance they could use you to help hone their brand bible.

3. Sustainability in marketing demands levels of communication. There's the superfluous for consumers who simply want to know the product ticks the green boxes. There's the (often online) content for conscious consumers -- the folks who want to know where you sourced that frog friendly coffee. And finally, there's the deep dive for the NGO's and regulators. If you have a passion for sustainability and an ability to write at different levels of complexity, the world needs you.

We live in interesting times. What's religion one day is anathema the next. Get used to it. The word is dead! Long live the word!