Who Are You Talking To?
It’s always fun to see brands shaking things up in stuffy industries.
Take Monzo, the popular online bank. They turned creaky necks in the banking sector when they started talking like real people, to real people. It was the same with Starling and Revolut. No banking fluff, just super user-friendly apps.
From nowhere, these fresh-faced brands redefined the way an entire sector communicates with its customers.
Free from constraints, they capitalised on that sweet millennial money by being relatable and ditching the jargon that often alienated younger people.
As a result, they attracted a new wave of customers – happy to be able to engage with their finances in a less tedious way.
So, where did that leave the Lloyds’ of the world? Would they have to completely rewrite the rules of their verbal identity to compete with their ‘cool’ new rivals?
Not necessarily. Taking a cut-copy-paste approach to tone of voice can lead to disastrous outcomes.
Not every brand should be “cool”
Especially not legacy ones. In banking, the likes of Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays have long controlled the sector’s tone. Which, we can all agree, is known for being dry. And not in the funny sense.
This is fine. It suits them well. It’s what we’ve come to associate with banking in general. Helpful, but boring. Authoritative bordering on bland.Of course this lack of edginess and relatability left a gap in the market for Monzo and co that couldn’t be plugged by the dinosaurs.
Such a tonal shift would be jarring. Like the Werther’s Original grandad suddenly spitting bars. It’s unexpected and not in a good way. Most of the time, only new brands we have no preconceptions about can pull off being disruptors.
But, this doesn’t stop brands trying to sound hip. Often it’s on social media where, for some reason, brands think going off at the deep end tonally is the done thing. The effects can be cringeworthy.
For example this tweet from ‘Life Teen’ (a catholic ‘movement’ for young adults).
“When bae says they don’t believe in god…Run like a llama #llamadrama
A spoonful of llamas helps the indoctrination slip down. Very clever.
Here’s another good one from Welch’s juice. They went old school for this one and lasered this smouldering line right into their packaging.
“Pour ‘em a glass of LOL’s”.
Good intentions, poor execution. Welch’s should stick to their wholesome tone instead of straying into outdated slang.
The problem with randomly deciding to play with a ‘cool’ tone or aim copy at a younger, trendier audience is two-fold. One – it sounds weird to existing customers. Two – it sounds weird to the intended audience. It’s a lose / lose situation.
The power of brands that disrupt industries isn’t just in their tone of voice. It’s to do with being new on the block, free from baggage and knowing how to speak to their people.
Get to know your people
Going back to the digital banks. They recognised that millennials wanted simplicity, transparency, and a more human touch from their financial services. By speaking directly to their audience’s pain points and desires, they built an emotional connection that traditional banks had failed to achieve.
So, what does this mean for brands outside the cool and trendy sphere?
Should every brand toss aside their existing brand voice and adopt a disruptive tone? The answer is a resounding “No.” Instead, they should do their research. Before diving into any copywriting, put time and effort into understanding your audience. Conduct thorough market research, create customer personas, and gather insights into what motivates and engages them.
Keep it real
Building an authentic brand voice is crucial for creating lasting connections.Trying to be something you’re not will only come across as disingenuous and could alienate your loyal customers.
As we’ve seen above, brands that attempt this stand out like Hi Vis in a charity shop. No, the key to winning audiences’ hearts and minds is staying true to your brand. In other words – by keeping it real. And this isn’t just some twee marketing advice.
A survey of over 1,000 consumers found that 90% cared about brand authenticity. In fact, it’s one of the main deciding factors in choosing one brand over another.
People naturally have more respect for brands that are being themselves. Even if that’s…well, a bit boring.
Whatever brand voice you choose, ensure consistency across all communication channels. Your audience should recognise your brand’s voice, whether they’re reading your website, social media posts, or newsletters. This is just a natural part of your brand being itself.
Think about what it’s like to meet someone who feels fake. It’s off putting. We don’t want to know more about them or be their friend. It’s the same with inconsistent, tonally uncertain brands.
Imagine if Apple tweeted this: ‘The nu MacBook is bare quick fam. For REAL.’
The wince would almost crease your face.
Test, learn, write, repeat
Test n’ learn is the foundation of all marketing. Continuously test your messaging to see what resonates best with your audience and be ready to refine your strategy.
This doesn’t mean play around with your brand voice until you feel it’s right, because you won’t get far before people switch off. It means, once you’re happy with it – test out different voice modulations. Different positioning (ways of expressing your product or service for greatest impact).
The voice analogy we use at Craft is the tone dial one. Same voice, different accents – depending on subject.
Don’t fear change
As your brand grows, your audience might evolve too. They might come to value different things in life and expect different things from your brand. Especially as we move into a future of environmental, economic and social uncertainty. What hits the right notes today might not tomorrow.
So be willing to adapt your messaging to stay relevant while staying true to your brand identity. It’s like people – people do change but often friendships remain over decades because people grow together and their core values are the same.
Maybe this is an overly cutesy metaphor. But you know what we’re getting at.
Killer copy transcends trends
Great writing goes beyond ad fads, tapping into universal truths for timeless appeal and profound connection.
The essence of copywriting lies in crafting messages that resonate with your unique audience, regardless of whether your tone is disruptive, authoritative, humorous, or heartfelt. The key is to align your brand voice with your target market’s preferences, values, and communication style.
Need a hand? We’re here to help.