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104 Languaging: How Category Designers Use Language to Change the Future

Monday 15th July 2024
LOM_Episodes-104 Languaging

In this episode, Christopher Lochhead talks about language. Specifically, a concept that most entrepreneurs and marketers don’t know much about: Languaging.


Languaging and Creating Context

Languaging is the strategic use of words and language to change and create the future.

As any category designer worth their salt should know, how you frame a category could make or break them. Having a great context for your category is a must if you want to be ahead of the pack.

What better way to add a strategic context than to use statements that will make customers relate to your category. If you do it right, even just one sentence can propel you to the top.


Language and Differentiation

Christopher uses MP3s and Apple iPods to make his point. In the early 2000s, MP3 players had already been in the market for almost half a decade. Yet a lot of people were not using them, and a bigger portion of the population doesn’t even know what it was.

So when Apple launched the iPod in 2001, they had to find a way to get people to switch from their Walkmans to their new product.

To do this, Apple used strategic languaging to distinguish iPod from other MP3 players by calling it a digital music player. That’s differentiation.

To drive it all home, they have this one-sentence slogan that resonates with consumers.

One thousand songs in your pocket.

On his first Apple iPod press release, Steve Jobs made it very, very clear that Apple was absolutely designing a new category with its new product. It wasn’t just another MP3 player. He said:

“With iPod Apple has reinvented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go. With iPod listening to music will never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs

Apple redesigned the category and ran away with it by putting the technology in a context people could understand.


Frame it and Name it

It is important to note that language we use to describe something changes the thing, the way people see and value the thing.

So what does this mean for category designers? Legendary category designers frame it and name it. Legendary category designers can and do change the future with one sentence.

If you start listening for languaging, which you could think of as the strategic use of words and language to change thinking, you’ll start to notice it more often.

“Remember, a demarcation point in language creates a demarcation point in thinking which creates a demarcation point in perceived value, and action.” – Christopher Lochhead



Christopher Lochhead is a #1 Apple podcaster and #1 Amazon bestselling co-author of books: Niche Down and Play Bigger.

He has been an advisor to over 50 venture-backed startups; a former three-time Silicon Valley public company CMO and an entrepreneur.

Furthermore, he has been called “one of the best minds in marketing” by The Marketing Journal, a “Human Exclamation Point” by Fast Company, a “quasar” by NBA legend Bill Walton and “off-putting to some” by The Economist.

In addition, he served as a chief marketing officer of software juggernaut Mercury Interactive. Hewlett-Packard acquired the company in 2006, for $4.5 billion.

He also co-founded the marketing consulting firm LOCHHEAD; the founding CMO of Internet consulting firm Scient, and served as head of marketing at the CRM software firm Vantive.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Lochhead on Marketing™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast! You may also subscribe to his newsletter, The Difference, for some amazing content.