True story: I once had a drink with Jude Law at the pub.
Right after watching his play, ‘Obsession’ at the Barbican Centre, I headed down the pub across the street.
Lo and behold, Jude Law was there, drinking by the bar and surrounded by people asking for selfies.
So I gathered all my courage, went up to him and asked, “What’s wrong with the blueberry pie?”.
He quickly turned to me and quoted his character in a lesser-known independent film, My Blueberry Nights: “There’s always a whole blueberry pie left untouched. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just…people make other choices.”
I replied: “That’s the biggest lesson I learned in love, so thank you Jude. And your film, ‘Alfie’ taught me about the red flags I should be aware of, while ‘Gattaca’ taught me to go for my dreams”.
After the compliments subsided, he bought me a pint and we talked for a while about the lessons to be learned from his lesser-known, underrated films before he left the pub.
A simple, memorable phrase and backstory knowledge of something can go a long way to creating a lasting impression.
The same goes for branding.
The power of words is ancient. They create connections. They inspire. And a lot of brands are guilty of neglecting them, just going all-out on design, and leaving copy by the wayside.
Let me give you the lowdown as to why creative brands need more than just a pretty face.
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE DOESN’T CUT IT
Let’s kick off with an example in practice.
Global fashion brand, United Colors of Benetton are an established name known for their colourful, stunning design work. However, in this post, they didn’t put enough thought into their copy and it resulted in them being called out by their own followers (eek).
LESSON: As a brand, United Colors of Benetton celebrates diversity. In fact, one of their key messages is to use fashion as a means of creating a brighter future for everyone.
As much as their advocacy for social equality is commendable, it can easily be trashed if they communicate their messages to their audience carefully. In short, don’t be thoughtless with your copy. It will backfire without the right strategy, and when words are an after-thought.
And let’s talk about Chanel, one of the world’s most iconic and classic luxury fashion brands. Yes, their black leather handbags and Chanel No. 5 perfume are classics. But their product descriptions are basic and lack the powerful words that would’ve emphasised the iconic status of their products.
LESSON: As a brand, Chanel emanates minimalism. But even minimalist brands need powerful copy to support their design, or they’re missing a huge opportunity to entice customers and strengthen their brand.
In short, words are powerful. They evoke emotions to make an impact. But also, to create copy compelling enough to convert.
But of course, a whole lot of strategy gets thrown into the mix. You can’t throw words around without a purpose. And the first step is nailing the brand’s tone of voice.
Consider the points in this blog post (by us), for more in-depth advice on creating a tone of voice.
Here are the key points in a nutshell:
- Think of your brand as a person. What personality will they have and how would they speak?
- Identify their tone of voice and use this across the board throughout all your copy.
- Consistency is key in order to remain on-brand and easily identifiable by your target audiences.
Next, you can weave in some key copywriting techniques that will work with your stunning design.
Like our next point…
USE THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STORYTELLING
Powerful design works by grabbing your attention through aesthetic appeal and strategic UX.
It’s a sensory treat.
Great copy, on the other hand, can stir emotions and bring out nostalgic memories. It can persuade you to go to a place, try a new experience or purchase a product.
This post explains the psychology behind storytelling. According to Dr Pamela B. Rutledge, our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology or design, the meaning starts in the brain.
There are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful:
- Stories have always been a primal form of communication. They are timeless links to ancient traditions, legends, archetypes, myths, and symbols. They connect us to a larger self and universal truths.
- Stories are about connection. They transcend generations, they engage us through emotions, and they connect us to others.
- Stories are how we explain how things work, how we make decisions. How we persuade others. How we understand our place in the world.
- Stories engage our brain and trigger our imagination. By engaging our imagination, we become participants in the narrative. We tap into creativity that is the foundation of innovation, self-discovery and change.
In essence, stories connect us and bridge differences. They can make products, services and events more relatable in ways that visuals can’t.
But best of all, they reel your readers in.
See what I did at the beginning of this post? I bet you wanted to know more about how I ended up having a pint with Jude Law at the pub. And since I’ve already got your attention, I used that leverage to draw you in further, so that I can tell you more about the power of words.
SHARE PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
There’s nothing more appealing than the authenticity that the human experience can bring. Sharing personal anecdotes can help you relate and connect more with their readers.
Transporting them into the situation you were in makes it more relatable. When you spark an emotion from them – whether you make them laugh or look back at a heartwarming memory, that’s something magnetic.
And that’s what you want. That’s what will keep them going. That’s what will make them appreciate the value that your content offers.
ENSURE THE STORY ALIGNS WITH THE MESSAGE
That being said, make sure that your story is relevant to the rest of the message. Telling a random story, no matter how interesting, becomes irrelevant in the grand scheme of things if the analogy is off or contrived.
The objective of the opening story is to hook the reader. It will be anti-climactic if the segue to the main body is too abrupt. Just keep it simple and stay on topic.
THE POWER OF WORDS CAN BE HARNESSED TO PERSUADE
Words can influence. And influence gets your foot in the door, allowing your brand to connect with more and more targets that can be persuaded. Influence is power.
This post discusses Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence and how they can help you reach out to the desired audience that you want to convert.
When writing copy, always keep these principles in mind:
Think of the golden rule: give that which you want to receive. Generally speaking, it’s all about killing with kindness. Giving small presents, saying please and thank you and respecting others.
In your brand’s copywriting and content strategy, this can be practised by giving your customers incentives. Give promo codes for discounts when they sign up, send them a lovely welcome email and greetings during holidays.
The crux of this principle is all about sticking to your own word and practising what you preach.
That means having the same key messaging across all your brand’s platforms. The same style of conveying these messages in writing. This will not only give you a distinct tone of voice, but will also make your creative brand stand out.
People rely on social cues from their friends and like-minded individuals when it comes to making decisions. That’s why identifying your target audience is important.
What appeals to someone from your chosen demographic appeals to the whole lot. When you’re able to convert one through your copy, chances are, the others would follow suit.
It’s all about finding common ground with your audience. Psychologically speaking, people like those who like them. So it’s important to connect with your audience on a personal level.
When it comes to writing, it’s good practice to tap into their lifestyle. For instance, if you’re a wellness brand that caters to health-conscious individuals, come up with blog topics that will appeal to them such as a DIY tea recipe, a 15-minute yoga routine or a home remedy for stress.
Being an expert in a certain field makes one more credible and trustworthy. When your target audience knows that the statement they’ve read came from a thought leader, they will most likely gravitate towards appreciating the product or service that your creative brand is offering.
Giving limited access to information, services or other items creates a sense of exclusivity. This leads to more demand. The value of what your creative brand is offering will increase.
The wording in your copy should encapsulate this without being too hard-sell. Take a look at some good examples in this post.
GOOD DESIGN AND GOOD COPY GO HAND IN HAND
Design and copy are equally important. Striking a delicate balance between the two is key and is dependent on the brand’s needs.
How can good quality copy stand out if the font used is unreadable? Similarly, if the design is aesthetically pleasing but the copy is bland, then it will not generate the intended desire from the target market.
Here are some tips to keep close:
- Design sets the stage for the offer. The goal for design is to set the right mood for the copy and to help get your copy read. It also says a lot about your creative branding. The colours, fonts, and layouts you choose will position your business in one way or another.
- The point of your copy is to get read. It ultimately sells your product or service. Every headline, sub-headline, and caption explains what’s being conveyed through the design.
- Good copy is good design. Sometimes, the design needs to be adjusted so that it’s less distracting and focuses the reader’s attention on the copy. Other times, the copy needs to be edited to fit the design. Both sides need to be willing to work together to get the best end result.
These guys have impressively nailed both their design and copy:
See what The North Face has done with their shoe advert design? The hedgehog design is the first thing you’ll see. It effectively grabs your attention. But the copy below is so witty and clever, that we’d rate it 100% awesome.
And then, there’s Innocent. Their website uses close-up shots of their products. They’re set against an unfocused background in a natural setting. But their straightforward, fluff-free copy has a tongue-in-cheek charm that draws you in.
Moosejaw also know what they’re doing. Without reading the copy, it’s just a good photograph of a man in a tent somewhere in the desert. But the copy managed to give it a humorous context.
Making a splash in your industry is a collaborative pursuit. Let your design and copy of your branding materials complement each other. That way, your customers will be able to see the bigger picture and the most complete experience of your brand.
Best of luck! Enjoy the creative process.