Writing plays a part in most stages of brand development. At the outset, we can contribute to workshops to develop possible positioning territories, then articulate them in evocative statements that can be focus group tested. Once a position is decided, we create names, straplines and tone of voice schemes that differentiate and convey the brand through language. And we can also write the first collateral in the new tone of voice, as well as train clients in how to write for their new or refreshed brand.
Language's role in branding
A product’s brand is its perception by consumers. Brand agencies and consultancies, who create and refine brands, consider everything that will influence this perception. This is a broad remit but tends to include the mission, the positioning (how it differs from competitors), the character, the values and the offer. Together, they form the brand model which will be brought to life through design and language in the corporate identity scheme. This scheme will include the name, logo and often a strapline, as well as the ‘look and feel’ design guidelines that determine how the brand appears across different marketing communications media.
Language is not the only influence on a brand’s perception but it plays a large role. Most obviously in the name and strapline, but also the tone of voice in which all communications are written: all have a big impact on how a brand is received.
The importance of suggestion in brand language
One of the lessons of Thinking, Fast and Slow, the book by Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman, is that humans don’t make rational decisions most of the time. Instead, our actions are driven by our subconscious noticing familiar patterns and making quickly drawn assumptions. Brands create these patterns through advertising. Faced with a choice, we tend to go for items we recognise. The brand identity then links the product to the advertising activity as it appears on both.
If a brand can achieve a distinctive tone of voice through brand copywriting, then everything it writes will build brand awareness and help prompt purchase by the ‘fast’ thinking brains of consumers. But a distinctive tone of voice is rare and is far harder to achieve than a distinctive visual identity.
The Barnaby Benson approach to brand copy
Writing for every stage of the branding process - we might be asked to participate in early-stage brand workshops with an agency and their client - to explore what the brand means. That can lead to creating and crafting positioning statements so they can go into focus group testing. We draft and refine positioning proposal documents and create illustrative headlines for mood boards. Ultimately, when the brand is decided, we write names and straplines that communicate the brand’s offer to the world.
Teamwork - agencies and brands often don’t have the demand to maintain a large in-house writing resource. We can be brought in when brand language expertise is required .
How do clients benefit from our approach?
Speed and peace of mind - as we have worked in a wide range of sectors, creating all types of copy, we understand what brands are trying to achieve and can quickly understand a brief. For agencies, that experience gives you the confidence to bring us into your team and recommend us to clients. For brands, it gives you peace of mind.
Originality that creates appeal - differentiation is key to successful branding. But the point of difference has to be beneficial to the consumer. We empathise with the consumer and see opportunities for original positioning territories that will appeal. We then convey that appeal through compelling names, straplines, headlines and body copy, often creating the first communications pieces in a new tone of voice so they can act as models for all that follows.
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