6 Important Examples For Tech Companies: How Self-Selective Speech Can Breed A New Product

I have these series of posts where I stand for putting out self-selective language when communicating to your users.

To go deeper on that road, my point with today’s article was to have a look at other industries (my favourite activity) and draw a parallel.

Évian Water.

In pop culture, Évian is deemed as a luxury/expensive product. I really want to dive deeper into the bottled water field with one article and remind everyone that as long as this industry exists (and is worth almost $200 Billion), branding is not dead. But that’s for another day.

Now, Évian lately has been focused on a much younger audience for God only knows what reason. We can explore that reason but there’s something else I want to point out about them. The self-selecting language. Here’s something from their website

If you don’t know these names, that’s good. If you do, that’s good as well. These collaborations served as limited edition products and it’s starting to become a tradition for Evian to do this. They’re collectibles and I wouldn’t be surprised if 50 years down the line one of them will sell with added value.

Elie Saab, Kenzo, Alexander Wang, Christian Lacroix, Chiara Ferragni and, not included in the picture, Virgil Abloh from Off-White (the latter will be the 2019 edition that hasn’t been released yet but just announced). These are all names that, around the year they’ve collaborated with Evian, served three functions:

1) Are associated with a higher-than-average price point (not necessarily luxury but at least high-end)
2) At that moment, they were “hyped” i.e. they were riding a notoriety train
3) They were cool (they might still be) among young people

Those three are the main reasons why an almost 3-century-old company is collaborating with trendy names.

The 2019 collaboration


Self-selective language.

Chiara Ferragni doesn’t mean anything to the 60-year-old executive, most probably — however, it means a lot to a 20-year-old micro-influencer.

And they’re not the only ones who do that. H&M started in 2004 by collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, one of the biggest names in fashion. What would they do? A special collection (same limited-edition aspect) with a big name, every year. They’re still doing that today.

It’s not exactly the same strategy as Evian, which is why we’re mentioning both in an article — if they were both doing the same thing, we’d only look at one. H&M’s approach is different in the sense that it’s about using their manufacturing power to make big names more accessible to people. However, both ends benefit from the collaboration.

And you can bet that the “self-selective language” idea is enforced with their yearly collaborations — on top of that, they breed a new product.

In tech

Enough fashion and luxury. Let’s talk tech.

Who does what? I mentioned Basecamp yesterday, here’s what they put out in their home screen visual:

“Hey! Nobody told me that!”


“Who has it?”

As it turns out, they’re pointing directly at the problem they’re solving. Below this screen, they underline the word “business”.


Yeah-yeah, great news. They say who it is for. That’s something basic, everyone does that.

To which I would reply that my intent is to go a bit deeper. On their home page they also say “We use Basecamp to make software (Basecamp!), discuss ideas, plan marketing campaigns, share pet pics — you get the idea. It’s a one stop shop for all the things teams do together.”

See that? “Discuss (…), plan (…), share pet pics — you get the idea”. That’s no language for Wall Street people or blue chip companies. That’s for start-up people.

  • This language
  • The visual
  • The friendly logo
  • The cartoon-like website
  • The grotesque font (in-your-face)
  • The pastel-focused colour scheme

All these line up to speak directly to the tech people, no matter if they’re founders or employee #50. It’s a design wave and Basecamp’s well-rooted and fluent in that language.

Other examples

Nootropics — the drugs that make you smarter.

A more and more populated audience as the Limitless movie gets more views. Some drugs are for people with ADD. Call them nootropics? That’s direct-speaking language for productivity/efficiency obsessed people. And selective, as it keeps away those who don’t have the knowledge of this concept.

Vegan leather — an alter-ego of synthetic leather

There’s noting to be eaten here, rather it’s just another name for the poor-worded “fake/faux leather” concept. It adheres to the vegan idea that animals should not be killed, so it’s self-explanatory.

Interested how successful a word change is? See for yourself.

Detox Teas

Teas that were cleansing your body existed way before 2014 but it’s only then that this wave started to rise tremendeously.

Sure, it’s not just a matter of changing one word while the product is exactly the same, like in the case of vegan leather. However, we can all agree on the fact that the impact on people was increased once a specific niche of teas was created.

Tea that helps you with digestion? Meh. Tea that detoxifies you body, cleansing it of what’s bad within you and keeping the good? Sign me up right now.

What’s the lesson here for SaaS companies?

Keep people out. Those who are “in” will feel a stronger impact. And hey, you don’t have to be a vegan to adhere to the vegan leather idea. The same thing applies to you, as a tech company.

For instance, you wouldn’t have to be a productivity-obsessed person to be using a specific online list creator. However, if I’m one of these “outsiders” and I hear about a SaaS that speaks directly to people who are obsessed about efficiency, I’ll say the magic words:

“I want that one and nothing else.”

About Ch Daniel

I run Chagency_, an experiences design agency that specialises on helping tech CEOs reduce user churn. We believe experiences are not only the reason why users choose not to leave but also what generates word of mouth. We’re building a credo around this belief.

If I’ve brought you any kind of value, follow me and get in touch here: LinkedIn | Twitter | Email | Quora | YouTube (same content but in video)

I’ve also created an infinitely-valuable app for sneaker/fashion enthusiasts called Legit Check that impacted hundreds of thousands over millions of times – check it out at chdaniel.com/app

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