I recently heard of a local Merseyside business having a redesign and relaunch of their website. They went for the full works: new logo, new brand colours, new everything. They are a local company I am a customer of and I was looking forward to seeing their new image. On launch day I was initially impressed, the site looks fantastic. It is designed to perfection to suit their brand and still suits their customers (me being one). Unfortunately the copy did not match the imagery and I was left a little disappointed.
There was nothing wrong with the copy in that it made sense, was grammatically correct and to all intents and purposes was perfectly fine. The problem lies in its blandness. It let down their whole image and wasn’t recognisable as this particular company speaking about their ace products. It could have been anyone. Most of it was copied over from the old site and so didn’t represent anything new. The remainder was bland and could be found anywhere. It looked like it had been thrown together at the last minute or filched from elsewhere with their brand name crow barred in to make sense.
It was so disappointing as it was clear the company had gone to a huge amount of effort to create a design which spoke to their customers and represented their brand. They just decided to give up when it came to telling a story and promoting a message to match the visuals.
I work with a number of web designers who recognise the need for solid copy to back up the quality of their work. It’s important to create a fantastic brand image, of course it is, but it’s effectiveness is weakened when your image isn’t backed up by a strong message. Customers today also look for more. They look for the story behind the brand and this is why brand storytelling has become so prevalent. Telling a story without words will only get you so far. If you begin with a strong brand message, you have the springboard for the story your customers want to hear.
Brand Identity: More than a Logo
Many of the most famous logos in the world are backed up by straplines but when you dig deeper, these straplines are backed up by a story which forms the brand’s identity and supports the imagery. Good brands have an identity which immediately evokes an emotion or conjures up an image. For some brands you may even think of a jingle or link their brand name or logo to a particular experience or time in your life.
Hubspot defines brand identity as: “the representation of your company’s reputation through the conveyance of attributes, values, purpose, strengths, and passions.” Can you do this without words?
Returning to that local company and their less-than-quality copy on their new website. Whilst I still have a strong sense of who this company is, their passions and their drive, a lot of this is due to their old branding and their work on social media. New customers to this company will be missing out because of the clear rush job on their copy. It seems to be a common occurrence that business owners invest in design, but not copy. Rather than maintaining and developing the tone of voice they’ve been using on social media and in their blog posts for a couple of years, their site is now filled with generic promises of ‘solutions’ and ‘excellence in customer service’. Everything they say is true but it isn’t very exciting, it doesn’t convince me to use their company over others.
Brand Identity and Your Copy
I’ve recently worked on copy for a new line of products for a company who already have a strong brand image. The new line needs to stand out as its own unique brand, whilst also linking back to the company who are already well known. Creating a new voice which still has a base in the original company has been fun, but most definitely challenging.
Writing is a fundamental part of every brand identity. Your copy has to reflect your brand and be consistent to deliver an image which can be relied upon and believed in. Unfortunately for the company I began this blog post with, they’ve not done this. They have a fun and personable approach on social media which is not matched on their new website. Maybe there are edits to come, maybe not, I just hope it doesn’t put too many people off!
To create a brand people can trust and believe in you have to have a unified approach to communications. It’s bad form to have different logos and inconsistent imagery to represent your brand and the same can be said for language. Your tone of voice needs to be consistent and recognisably “you”. It isn’t something that is easily achievable without a considerable amount of work. Every brands wants to be immediately recognisable and wants their company to evoke certain feelings and emotions. The right words are key to achieving this.
You may know your brand best but you may not be able to put it into words. That’s where the professionals come in. People invest a lot of money into crafting their brand image. Some of this investment should certainly be in copy. Investing in a copywriter to help craft your brand identity means your written copy can match your design. This in turn means when new customers land on your website they enjoy more than just the fantastic visuals. They get your message and act on it.
Winning at Brand Copywriting
Here are three quick examples of brands I think are all over their copy and recognise how it needs to match the quality of their design for a strong brand identity:
I use Trello, Trello is a great tool but it’s also a great brand. They keep things simple and clear. There are companies offering similar products which make a lot less sense. Trello’s copywriters make sure you know what you’re getting when you sign up. They are clear to ensure that visitors to their site have a clear and easy path to follow. On many pages of the Trello site the images are reliant on good copy to ensure they make sense.
Firebox is far from a new company and so the guys their have had time to hone their craft but you can’t argue with it, it works. From the simplicity of their straplines to the humour injected into their product descriptions and every aspect of the sales process, you always know when you’re dealing with Firebox. The same upbeat, quirky tone of voice never wavers.
Sofa company’s should be a bit soft. I think so anyway and the branding and content at sofa.com makes you feel like you’re already curled up comfortably on one of their products. Clever use of language such as ‘sofa ingredients‘ and single words like ‘lovely’ and ‘comfy’ used liberally throughout the copy help to create this warm, homely image.
Crafting your Brand Identity
Brand copywriting comes with huge repsonsibility. As a writer you are helping a company create its identity which it is going to project to the world. Even the smallest brands want to make an impact, however small, and the right copy goes a long way to achieving this. Getting it wrong can disappoint customers and weaken the strength of your brand. Getting it right can turn potential customers into loyal advocates.
I’m pleased to work with companies of all sizes, helping brands craft the copy they need to support their design. If you’re looking for copy to match your design or are even starting from scratch with your brand identity, get in touch. Investing in design is important but you’re missing a trick if your copy doesn’t match up.