Great brands have a certain something. A spark and charisma. We enjoy hearing from them, and quite fancy seeing them again.
That’s because language has the power to seduce. It can be funny, inspiring or strike a chord. With an easygoing authenticity, it leaves its coat of jargon at the door. To make sure your brand voice doesn’t turn your customers off, avoid these relationship disasters:
Borrowed branding feels awkward. An organisation must be comfortable in its own skin, or it looks as if it’s trying on someone else’s clothes. People today are savvy; they’ve been in bed with a few brands and they’ll quickly sniff out a pretentious tone of voice.
While no one tolerates a selfish bore, brands still churn out one-way communications. If you don’t reach out to your audience, ask them questions, dream and laugh with them, you’ll end up buying dinner for one.
Once you’ve developed some chemistry, it takes consistency to establish trust. Subtle style shifts are natural (think: supermarket queue / dinner date / interview), but changing character will soon break off a customer engagement. Make sure every piece of copy remains true to your style and values, so that budding relationships can mature in the long term.
THE FAUX PAS
I read about someone who was surprised when a handwritten poster at Sainsbury’s used the word ‘stuff’. It jarred against their usual tone of voice and seemed out of place, like an inappropriate joke. While the occasional mistake or misjudged tweet won’t hurt, you can only get away with so much. Subconsciously, our brains process and recognise copy tone, so that we become accustomed and happy to respond.
Fall-in-loveable brand language has these traits:
• Consistency – so we feel comfortable in its company
• Authenticity – so we trust and believe it
• Openness – so we feel welcome and included
• Charisma – so we smile, chat, nod and blog
Whether you’re an edgy youth brand, charity or business-to-business colossus, the same rules apply. No one likes a bore, no one likes a pretender and no one likes a Jekyll and Hyde. So create a credible brand voice and take it through all your communications. That way, you’ll develop loyal customers – and if you’re really clever, hordes of devoted admirers.
Is your brand loveable? Contact me for a brand language audit.