Brands and copywriting: more than just looks
The term ‘copywriting’ is often confused with references to ‘copyright’, and tends to puzzle people – with subsequent explanations frequently failing to provide further clarity, or a concrete definition. For us at Shine, copywriting is the art of creating written content for the various design and marketing projects that we undertake for our clients.
There’s no denying that copy is everywhere. The five second ad you were forced to watch on YouTube before skipping to the good stuff. The glaring yellow billboard on the tube, questioning if you’re ‘beach body ready’ – cue the eye rolls. The flyer that landed on your doormat last Tuesday, enticing you with BOGOF pizza. This very article. All of these are examples of copy.
SO, WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH BRANDING AND COPY?
Every brand first and foremost needs a core message to build on – a purpose, a mission, values. After all, if the brand itself doesn’t know what it stands for and why it exists, then how will the customer? And that message is as much about the written word as it is about the brand’s logo, and the type of visual imagery it uses.
“If the brand itself doesn’t know what it stands for and why it exists, then how will the customer?”
We believe a strong brand involves more than just looks. More than just colours and a logo. More than just striking images and distinctive typography. To garner emotion, you need words, carefully crafted using persuasive and emotive language. A strong brand, therefore, needs a ‘voice’ to communicate key messages to its audience. The distinct tone of this voice is then what sets a brand apart from its competitors, and allows that brand to cohesively define and present itself.
FINDING YOUR VOICE
Having a voice personifies your brand – as comic writer Doug Wagner puts it, “transforming it from a product or service into an emotional, idiosyncratic entity that your customers can identify with”. But, for this voice to talk effectually, you need a copywriter to ensure the tone is just right.
We believe that nothing says you’ve understood your audience, or brand for that matter, quite like nailing the tone of voice. Take Newcastle Brown Ale for example, whose ‘no bollocks’ approach (pardon our French!) has been appealing to punters since 1927. This tone of voice may not be suitable for the likes of the aristocracy, but for the beer brand’s largely male, football loving, no nonsense Northern demographic? Absolutely.
“Nothing says you’ve understood your audience, or brand for that matter, quite like nailing the tone of voice”.
Consistency is also key when it comes to tone of voice, allowing brands to construct a unified character across all channels and materials. This character is the very essence, the personality of the brand. And, much like an author uses words to sculpt and craft the differing personalities of their characters, a copywriter uses words to form the personality and character of a brand.
People are naturally apprehensive of change. We tend to trust what we know, and the same can be said when it comes to brand loyalty. An inconsistent voice will make consumers feel uncomfortable by creating a paradoxical and jarring impression – whilst consistency will build trust and familiarity, which in turn leads to brand authority. This is why good copywriting is so essential. Just look at Innocent Smoothies, which has mastered brand articulation by reliably embodying honesty and goodness in every word it utters – all without taking its brand too seriously.
Whilst tone of voice is key to good copywriting, and subsequently branding, there is another crucial element to consider. In good writing you need persuasion, but you also need a story in order to engage the audience. Freelance copywriter Alistaire Allday notes a shift in the power dynamic from the “high-gloss world of beautiful visuals and captivating imagery” to the “slower, more thoughtful, yet often more engaging world of copy”. He claims storytelling has the power to engage and retain the attention of audiences far longer than an image ever could.
But, is storytelling still relevant in the increasingly digital environment in which we find ourselves? Copywriter Derryck Strachan believes so, claiming the digital world demands content and feeds on words, as “consumers are reading, texting, tweeting, blogging, exchanging opinions every day”. So, although storytelling was perhaps dwindling in the past, he predicts that increasing digitisation will welcome its rebirth. And we couldn’t agree more, which is why we are dedicated to forming distinctive stories for our clients – stories that translate in the current digital environment.
But, what exactly makes a good story? In short, creating memories. And in the world of copywriting and branding, ‘memorability’ is the name of the game. In the quest to communicate core messaging, you can attach as many words and phrases to a brand as you want. But, if it doesn’t stick in the mind, then what’s the point? To do this, you need to connect with the audience emotionally – after all, stories and emotions are both universal.
Take Coca-Cola for example, arguably one of the most iconic global brands. Through its storytelling, Coca-Cola has become heavily associated with the emotion of happiness – just look at their ‘Choose Happiness’ or ‘Share a Coke’ campaigns. Then of course there are the renowned Christmas ads – who isn’t overcome with a warm fuzzy feeling at the first sight of that big red truck? And, whilst we’re on the topic of storytelling and Christmas ads, it would be rude not to throw in a mention of John Lewis, with its heart-warming festive fables and corresponding social media campaigns.
“In the quest to communicate core messaging, you can attach as many words and phrases to a brand as you want. But, if it doesn’t stick in the mind, then what’s the point?”
HARNESSING THE POWER OF COPY
So, going back to our original question, what does copywriting have to do with branding? Well, evidently, a lot. Writing is a fundamental part of any brand. Without a voice, who even are you? Brands that fail to realise this, and to harness the power of good copy effectively, risk seriously short-changing themselves.
Good writing enhances brands, not only by reinforcing their core ideals and communicating those ideals to potential customers – but also, more practically, by increasing sales. For example, in the six weeks leading up to Christmas 2016, while its ‘Buster the Boxer’ campaign was running, John Lewis’ sales went up nearly 5% compared to the previous year.
What it all boils down to is the need to create an authentic voice for your brand, to instil trust in that brand for the customer, and to assert your brand authority. Which is why, at Shine Creative, we use our imaginative prowess and our understanding of each client’s audience to craft engaging stories that generate the desired response. We give you a voice that confidently communicates your core messaging to customers, planting your brand firmly in their heads – and even their hearts.