Embodying the brand – copywriting tips

Ever heard someone refer to a ‘brand personality’? That’s because the whole reason why businesses develop brands is to try and connect with their target audiences on a deeper lever. Rather than telling them all the practical reasons why they should buy from them (which doesn’t work, as we know), a brand is something their consumers can have a relationship with. Brands are entities with consistent personalities, just like your friends. Their behaviour, manner of speaking and the things they do all contribute to that brand perception (if it’s done well). Think about Coke – whatever they do, they’re always about youth, summer, cool-but-wholesome and energy. Consistency is key here. Brands are there to build relationships – just imagine trying to be friends with someone who was dry and serious over coffee and then wanted to party all night the next day? You’d assume they had a bit of a screw loose and probably quietly shut down the friendship. The same goes for brands.

So when it comes to copy writing, it’s important that your text is ‘on brand’ – that the tone of voice is consistent with the brand personality. The easiest way to do that is to leverage your innate communications genius by imagining your brand as a person – and acting like them. If you’ve got your target audience well defined, you’ll then be able to imagine a real conversation between the brand and the target – that’s what the ‘Communications industry is all about, after all.

You’ll be able to simply ‘act’ the brand.

The Coke example.

Here are two pieces of writing, both telling the same story – the origins of Coca Cola. One is the original – a Wikipedia entry. The other is written by one of my students at AUT, while she was embodying the brand. You’ll see that this isn’t just about the language the writer has chosen, but the angle of the piece. It talks directly to the consumer, has dropped a lot of the detail, and weaves in the feeling of their longstanding, intimate relationship – Coke is everyone’s friend, and this piece makes you feel that.

About Coca-Cola, from Wikipedia:

Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines throughout the world. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke (a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company in the United States since March 27, 1944). Originally intended as a patent medicine when it was invented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton, Coca-Cola was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coke to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century.

About Coca-Cola, better tone of voice and more story telling

I know you love Coke.

But before you skull it back, just take a minute to consider just how much Coke loves you.

I mean, your Coke came a long way, all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, home of the original Coca-Cola Company. Way back in the 19th Century, this guy called John Pemberton made Coke as a kind of medicine. No wonder it’s never failed to cure your thirst.

And this isn’t the first time Coke’s helped you out. Coke’s ready and waiting for you to get your afternoon fix. It’s always been there in Countdown’s fizzy aisle. When you couldn’t afford a nine-dollar glass of Sav, Coke supported your wallet. And in places where boredom strikes, the vending machine’s never too far away.

We’ve been together for such a long time. I mean, you know Coke on a first name basis.

Anyway, you get the love is mutual right?

Now, go ahead: skull.

Exercise: Define your brand as a person

OK, here’s a wee exercise to get you in the zone. Think carefully about your organisation and ask yourself, ‘If this brand were a person, what would he or she be like?’

These questions are by no means exhaustive, but they’re a good place to start. When you answer, avoid using adjectives. Instead, hit upon descriptions that paint a picture. So rather than saying your person is “caring” (because that could mean LOTS of different things) try to describe something about her behaviour that demonstrates her particular kind of caring. For example, these all demonstrate quite different kinds of caring: “she volunteers at homeless shelters”; “she always reports dangerous driving”; “she phones her mother every Sunday”.

  1. What is your person’s name, age and gender?
  2. What does he or she look like?
  3. What is his or her relationship to your target audience?
  4. What kind of home life?
  5. What kind of hobbies does your person enjoy?
  6. What hot button topics does your person care about?
  7. How would you describe your person to a colleague?
  8. How would your person behave at a party?
  9. What else is important to note about your person?