top of page


There exists a rather fascinating little book, written by the neurologist Oliver Sacks, called The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. The book beautifully describes the, often tragic, case studies of some of Dr. Sacks' strangest cases. One such case – from which the title was taken – describes the case of a man, Dr. P, with what is called visual agnosia. He could only use a small piece of visual information to identify an object, leading him to mistake his wife's head for his own hat. Now this got us thinking: To what extent does this happen when normal people view our branding?

Visual Identity

It is hard to deny the importance of branding as a way of expressing a company's identity. Through the visuals of the brand alone you elicit from the consumer recognition, an appreciation of individuality and an emotional connection. A 2004 study by Read Montague found that, while 50% of people said they preferred Pepsi to Coke, when people were told they were drinking Coke or saw the logo they said it tasted better...even when they were still drinking Pepsi.

The visual identity, then, of Coke actually made people think it tasted better. Even more shockingly Montague found that peoples' brain chemistry actually changed when they thought they were drinking Coke, even if they were actually drinking Pepsi. This shows the extent to which successful branding can influence our way of thinking.

Looking back at poor Dr. P, it seems likely that given any particular snapshot of the Coke branding and he would be able to identify it as Coke. The particular shade of red, the swirly white lettering, perhaps even the hand-drawn Father Christmas who appears on our screen every festive season. This is the importance of a strong visual identity.

Linguistic Identity

Since it is not usually the first thing that is noticed, tone of voice is often overlooked as an important way of identifying a brand. There are a number of other cases in Sacks' book in which his patients identify people and their roles by their voice and what they say. In the case of The Lost Mariner a patient with severe amnesia identifies Sacks as a doctor, despite having no memory of him, simply because of how he talks.

Linguistic identity can help identify a brand as much as visual identity. In fact, it could be argued that in B2B sales a consistent tone of voice is even more important. With so many brands pushing visuals on us it is only when then language is able to both capture your imagination and eloquently explain/describe the product or service that one will connect with it.

Most importantly, the visual and linguistic brands must match. You should brand as if all you customers had agnosia, so that any individual piece of branding immediately identifies your company. When we think of the plethora of marketing channels now open to us – television, radio, print, online, social media, mobile devices etc. - it really is ever more important that your brand identity is consistent across them all.

To talk to copywriters who really know how to create a distinct and consistent identity for your brand get in touch with our team.

bottom of page