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Perspectives

It’s good to hear your voice

Copywriter, New York

More than ever brands are becoming prolific conversationalists and captivating raconteurs. More than ever, audiences are listening intently and talking back. As we well know, there are countless channels and formats to connect; the most savvy of brands maneuver across them all with ease and intimacy.

Companies aren’t phoning their messaging in, so to speak. They post it, tweet it, snap it, send it, but first and foremost, the best of the bunch carefully craft it. There’s a lot of noise, so what you say and how you say it makes a world of difference if you want to strike a resonant chord.

The consumer/brand relationship has shifted from transactional – I give you money, you give me product and we go our separate ways – to emotional – I give you money, you give me product, now take your coat off and stay awhile. So how are voice savvy brands speaking today?

The real pioneers know their audience inside and out. Kate Spade crafted an audience portrait that has become iconic copy used everywhere from marketing to product, from postcard to iPad cases to cash wrap graphics: “She is quick and curious and playful and strong… she has $7 in change at the bottom of her handbag”. Drybar proves they’re not all hot air by harnessing their sunny atmosphere with considerately placed messaging. As you enter the blowout hotspot, a doormat kindly greets you with, “Nice shoes”.

The real pioneers are masters of disruption. Seamless Web hits you with a text right after you place an order, teasing that there’s “Breaking News”, along with a prediction from their “deep-fried crystal ball” providing you with a ten-minute delivery time window as well as the name of your food bearer. Vita Coco paints the city “Stupidly Simple” with laughably obvious public indicators, dropping not-so-serious knowledge on you by informing you that the bike rack in front of your face is in fact a rack for bikes. Bai5 beverage shakes things up with big, bold, quirky product descriptors written up the side of the can. Stuff like, “Behold fierce fruit flavor. It’s like an exotic kick in your mouthpants”. Totino’s beat other brands to the punch by live-tweeting the Super Bowl a day early with masterfully lame and outdated language followed by peculiar hashtags: “Haha, neat! Sport events with irregular shaped balls sure are #exciting and #exciteful! #sparts #TheBigGame”.

The real pioneers see the brand journey as seamless, allowing for conversation to spark at any given point – clever website copy, a strong Instagram game, an eye-catching subway ad, a well-timed tweet, a head-turning billboard, surprising and engaging package messaging, and the list goes on. The conversation goes on. And if it’s a good conversation – a conversation that elicits a laugh (maybe even a snort), keeps you on your toes as it dances in your head, tugs at your heartstrings and hugs you, wrapping its words around you, squeezing tight and never letting go – then it’s a conversation worth continuing at all… well, costs. Men’s clothing brand Scotch & Soda takes Amsterdam couture and makes it conversational with tags that tell you, “This is your shirt”. And if you’re looking to liquidate before purchasing said shirt, go to a Wells Fargo ATM at everyone’s favorite day of the week and you’ll see a message on the screen saying “Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend.”

The real pioneers know who they are as a brand and have defined themselves behind the scenes so the brand voice can be more powerful out in the world. They know how to adapt to an ever-evolving environment without losing their sense of self. Years removed from a transformational brand repositioning, Old Spice is still legally and proudly insane, a notion supported by the oddly endearing language of their wacky Fresher Collection. Copy on their deodorant ensures it’s “newer & fresher than coconuts and daydreams”. Meanwhile, Crunch gym continues to exercise its quick wit with “Hey look, free weights!” aptly placed above the dumbbell rack.

Brands are speaking up, forging emotional connections and lasting, meaningful relationships with people who expect an experience, not just a product. Brands are creating moments in unexpected places and making consumers feel special and cared for. Brands are revealing their deepest dimensions – offering up their inner workings and letting consumers into their most secret spaces. And by doing so, brands are being rewarded with something you can’t put a price tag on: consumer loyalty.

Now I’m done talking, but the conversation between brands and consumers is just beginning. So, what would you like to talk about?

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