Why brand language matters

Opening Line founder Zosia Swidlicka discusses why the world of brand language remains so misunderstood, and how it inspired her to create her new publication Between the Lines

“For me, brand language is the thread that connects every single piece of a brand from its inception. If you’re not expressing that through words then you’re not saying anything, and it’s not going to engage people on a deeper level,” says Zosia Swidlicka. While the role of a writer in the creative industries was traditionally associated with writing copy for ads, brands are now required to show up in more places than ever with a distinctive tone of voice, and successful businesses ranging from Oatly to Duolingo are putting words at the heart of how they interact with audiences.

Despite this, the vast world of brand language – and even the term itself – remains misunderstood by much of the advertising and design community, with people often stumbling into it as a career option. This was certainly the case for Swidlicka, who founded strategy and copy studio Opening Line in 2022 but describes her career path up until that point as a “squiggly line”. Having dipped her toe into cultural PR and events after finishing uni, in 2012 she landed a marketing and communications job at Moleskine.

In the four years that she spent at Moleskine, first at its Milan headquarters and then in New York, she worked across everything from ghostwriting to naming new products, gaining an insight into the minutiae of how a brand works. It was only later, after working as head of brand at a startup in London, that she decided to pursue freelance copywriting full-time and then set up her own studio.

Top and above: Opening Line’s work for Patch and Apron