“Copywriting is a conversation”
Vikki has been copywriting for the big dogs for quite some time, with clients such as Sky, NOW TV and ITV. She’s also been judging and writing briefs for the D&AD New Blood copywriting categories for the last three years as well as running workshops around the world.
As a creative, it’s important to understand how brands talk and what a brand wants to say. How do they get noticed and, more importantly, stay relevant? Vikki kicked the workshop by giving us the key principles on “How to Build a Brand.”
Brand Purpose – this is the exploration, the planning, the strategy – it’s the reason for being, the ‘what we do’ and ‘why we do it’.
“People choose their brands as they choose their friends. You choose friends… not usually because of specific skills, or physical attributes (though of course these come into it) but simply because you like them as people.”
Stephen King, JWT
Brand Personality – this is the ideas bit, the investigating, the understanding, the creating. In the words of Mr King, brands are just like people. If they’re interesting, people will want to get to know them.
Brand Voice – So, what’s the key to writing in a consistent voice that keeps us, the consumer, engaged? “Copywriting is just a conversation,” Vikki says and here are her three top tips for creative copywriting.
1. Get real – write naturally and conversationally
We all know the friendly and honest tone of voice of Innocent. Why? Because they write naturally and conversationally. Hayley Redman, Senior writer at Innocent, says they were sick of advertising being so formal and dry and wanted to speak to their drinkers the way that they spoke to each other. So, they call their headquarters ‘Fruit Towers’ and they insist that you call them on the ‘Bananaphone’. Go to their website, and they replace the generic ‘About Us’ section playfully with ‘Useful Stuff’. Turn the bottle upside down and there you will find a message which says, ‘stop looking at my bottom’. From bottle to billboard, web to small print, there is always a real, friendly tone of voice that is distinctively Innocent.
Innocent tone of voice.
2. Get personal – write in the first person
You – your. Me – my. We – us. Speak directly to your consumer. Or in Audi’s case, your competitor. Remember the billboard war between Audi and BMW? Well they’re at it again, starting with BMW this time. They have put up a billboard outside the Audi dealship that says “Il n’est jamais trop tard pour changer d’avis” which translates to: “It’s never too late to change your mind.” An obvious prompt for those heading down to buy an Audi.
However, the people from the Audi dealership didn’t waste any time coming up with their own reply: “LOOOOL You don’t switch from a winning brand”, with the LOL clearly being spelt with four O’s from the Audi logo. Brilliant. Nothing beats a bit of personal banter between brands.
3. Get active – write in the active voice
The best way to approach this way of copywriting without sounding too naïve is to swap a few simple words. Ensure – make sure. View – see/watch. Receive – get. Utilise – use. Per month – a month. These simple word-swaps transform a piece of writing from being quite dry and boring, to being simple, to the point and easy to read.
“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.”
Let’s take a brand we all know and love: Nike. It’s purpose: To support every athlete. It’s personality: Exciting and encouraging. It’s voice: Active and motivating. Nike lives and breathes these key principles, which ensures everything they do is distinctively Nike.
So, copywriting isn’t as hard you might think if you stick to the three key principles – get real, get personal and get active.
Vikki created the Twitter hashtag #copywritersunite, which sees copywriters from around the world connecting with each other every day. She has also co-founded Copy Capital, an annual event to celebrate copywriting. Certainly worth checking out!
Blog written by Lisa.