Want to make an impact? Use your words.
The fight for good writing is fiercer than ever.
Last week, the government disappointedly decided to postpone the much anticipated code of conduct for how AI uses and distributes creative material. A real slap in the face for creatives everywhere, only months after the actors union reached a deal with Hollywood to secure long-term pay and protections against the use of AI writing in cinema.
Now, we might not have fancy dressing rooms or our words read by DiCaprio, but our industry has more in common with Hollywood than we think. Automated or lazy writing will at best make your brand blend in, and at worst cause consumers to switch off completely. Whereas no words at all will leave your comms with as much depth as a Kardashian interview (sorry Kylie).
Building a brand with a compelling tone of voice and a strong set of key messages is an investment. Enlisting a copywriter to craft an ownable verbal identity, as part of the foundations of your brand, is the difference between having an idea – and just a few nice graphics.
And here’s why.
We’ve been there, got the (branded) t shirt
People buy into people. So to truly resonate, you need to meet your audience at their level, speak person to person, and give them an indisputable reason to choose your brand over everyone else. We’re vocal beer lovers, doting pet parents and emphatic foodies so when we write, we write from the heart. We harness what we love about a project or service to make others love it too.
The same approach goes for serious subjects. The taboo-tackling messaging we created for debt advice charity StepChange came from us all sitting around a table and actually talking about debt. If we hadn’t experienced it first hand, we knew someone who had. Our empathy helped set the direction for the brand’s voice, as we recognised how nuanced it would have to be to navigate the broad spectrum of emotions attached to the topic.
Now the perfect balance between supportive and proactive, the voice flexes slightly depending on who the charity is speaking to. And is an integral part of their DNA.
Sponges for inspiration
When it comes to grabbing the reader’s attention, a dash of witty wordplay or putting our own spin on a popular trend goes a long way. And whether it’s a quote from a favourite show, a meme from a friend, or overhearing a stranger’s phone conversation on the train – these golden nuggets don’t come from staring at a computer screen. They come from living life and soaking up inspiration from everywhere we go. I think I speak for copywriters everywhere when I say you should see the state of my notes app.
The balance between familiar and ownable can be a tricky one to strike, but sharing an ‘in joke’ with your audience is a powerful way to keep your brand front of mind. This can be anything from a ballsy billboard ad to something as small as a punctuation change (remember that iconic Macbook line?). It’s those moments that make your brand truly memorable.
Copy, not copied
Living and breathing your mission is a must for any brand owner. But when you’re really ‘in it’, it’s all too easy to have tunnel vision. As creative partners, not in-house writers, we like to think we keep a healthy distance. Rather than being led by what others are saying, we work to find an approach your brand can own. Whether that be a new tone, style, angle or USP, it’s about saying (and delivering on) something others can’t. All this is particularly valuable when you’re operating in a typically functional or uninspiring category.
Paint brand Lick have nailed this. Instead of churning out messages that are about as fun as watching paint dry, they’ve tapped into the joyful experience of picking the perfect colour. From their playful name and unexpected pack messages, to their attention-grabbing adverts, their words are decorated with charm and emotion.
Similarly, when Cleancult’s competitors were a stuck record preaching their natural credentials, we gave people more to believe in. With the voice of a charismatic leader, the brand rallies a band of ‘no-plastic fanatics’ and indoctrinates them into a world of clean that means clean in every single way.
Design attracts, copy connects. And when both are done well, you’ve got yourself an unstoppable brand. Whether you’re an existing business fighting to be heard or a new one looking to find your voice, working with an expert copy team is an integral part of the creative process.
Together we’ll unearth what you need to say and how you need to say it – in a way that’s distinctly and unforgettably yours.
Is your brand lost for words? Let’s chat.
Lick – Identity Designed
Kylie GIF – Tenor