Long scrolling websites are great for browsing on mobiles and tablets – but not so handy for differentiation. Now that every website looks the same, brands must rely on their web copy to really set them apart.
Remember the bad old days: inching your way towards a tiny link, hidden away in the corner of your phone’s screen?
Thank heavens for infinite scrolling websites. Responsive and easy to navigate, it’s no wonder pretty much every brand has adopted them. But therein lies the problem. Differentiation through web design used to be massive for brands. Now UX has trumped individuality.
This means a website’s copy has to shoulder more of the burden of differentiation.
Such a friendly bank!
This is a challenging task at the best of times. But now it’s particularly tricky. Ever since brands started having perpetual ‘two-way conversations’ with consumers on social media, they’ve all wanted to occupy the same tonal territory: that of the chatty mate just out to do what’s best.
Done well, this can be great. Done badly, it usually ends up somewhere between ingratiating and infuriating. At the moment, it’s done everywhere. So even if it’s well achieved, it’s frustrating differentiation.
To claw back some distinctiveness, brands need to avoid falling into this tonal ‘us too’ trap. They need to be braver than that. And some soul searching is required.
One option is to interrogate the very reason the brand exists and – then infuse this sense of mission into the tone and messaging. That’s not an easy task, but it can be done. See our blogs on 'Going beyond chatty copy' and '10 TOV myths'.
A second route to differentiation heaven is isolating a distinctive attitude that's right for the brand and make it permeate the web copy. Attitude is part message and part tone – and language is the perfect medium for revealing it.
You’ll usually find a brand’s attitude buried amongst the brand values, which are what most TOV guidelines are based on. However, when it comes to differentiating web copy, you need the confidence to adopt a bold, singular attitude based on one of these values. Trying to reflect all of them leads to sameness in the language.
It’s all on you, words
With visual differentiation ceding power to usability, it’s now up to words to champion a brand’s unique personality online. A friendly tone is just the beginning and is too broad a tone for any brand to own. So consider why the brand is in business, isolate what makes it different, then bring that out in your brand’s attitude. Vive la difference!