Monocle Forecast x Langenscheidt

This year’s Monocle’s Forecast also opens with 10 observations on people and places. One of the observations looks at Langenscheidt, a German publishing company with a range of language dictionaries.


Three key takeouts from this piece for me personally:

  1. Important to consider the impacts of online on resources like this and redefining value in a world post Babelfish and very much Google Translate; I definitely didn’t consider the effect of online translators on dictionaries from companies like Langenscheidt, but I personally like travelling with language books and I also like speaking a phrase into my phone and letting an app translate for me.
  2. Langenscheidt has been around since 1856 but its current branding is a refresh from 2013. I think the strong commitment to brand and aesthetics is refreshing itself and facilitates positive associations to what sounds like a historic, traditional German brand.
  3. More important for the Langenscheidt brand is its underlying shared value to its customers. The company launched its German-Arabic dictionary online for free with audio pronunciations in 2015. For free. During a time when German authorities and volunteers were struggling to communicate with refugees. This is brand brilliance! A brand must encompass shared value – value for both company and customer.

And, in a sea of depressing news from any and every news organisation, you know, those news organisations that are supposed to direct our attention to large institutional failures within our political and social arrangements (thanks, Alain de Botton!)… well, Langenscheidt, a brand with profit aspirations, it did that for us instead.


The company published the list of most popular search words from the German-Arabic online dictionary (oh the pleasures of digital metrics): “help”, “love”, “friend” and most important of all “welcome”.

Perhaps the world isn’t as horrible as The Daily Mail. Perhaps there’s hope in humanity. Perhaps people are inherently good. Perhaps brands are too.


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