Good copy, and a unique tone of voice, is more than clever writing and witty slogans. It’s about telling customers what you believe in.
So who are you and your company? Deep down?
Nike is one company who are admired for their copywriting. It’s always inspiring, positive, and powerful. Their tone of voice is urgent, motivational, and encouraging. It inspires customers not just to buy their clothes, but to get out there and run a marathon.
Wouldn’t you love copy like that?
But it’s not just the copy that’s great, it’s Nike’s core values.
Your copy only has a voice if your company has a voice.
So, before you start writing your company’s headlines and slogans, go right back to the basics. Go back to your mission statement and your foundations. What does your company stand for? What makes you different? What makes you important?
Pick out the adjectives that define your company. If you’re a financial business, your company should be reliable and trustworthy. If you’re an app company, you’re innovative and forward thinking. If you’re Nike, you’re aspirational and full of energy.
Those same adjectives should be used to define your tone of voice.
Step 2. Authenticity
If you follow step 1, authenticity should come naturally.
You’ll never create a unique voice by copying someone else. Let’s take a look at (probably) the biggest copywriting success story ever, Innocent Drinks.
Their copy is uniquely witty, informal, and playful.
There’s an email sign up that promises: “love, friendship, and a weekly newsletter”.
There’s a ‘bananaphone’ number to call the main office.
They offer a self-deprecating approach to the environment: “We sure aren’t perfect, but we’re trying to do the right thing.”
Their playful style has been replicated a thousand times. But, it only feels authentic in one place: Innocent.
Because it comes from the very core of their company. At heart, the company was built by creative, fun people trying to do something good. The copy isn’t revolutionary, it’s just honest. It’s an extension of the people that work there.
So, stop looking at Innocent, Nike etc and trying to copy their copy. Look at your own business and write what feels natural to you.
Step 3. Talk to me like a real person
Copy is just a conversation with your customers.
If you owned a real shop, you wouldn’t approach a customer and reel off dense, technical wording. You’d be friendly, helpful, and welcoming. Do the same online.
The first step here is working out who you’re talking to.
Once you know your target audience, you can create a tone that resonates with them.
Yes, I’m one of those bloggers who gives you homework! But trust me, it will help.
1. Define the essence of your company
Before you start writing anything, go back to the drawing board. What are the core values of your business. What adjectives describe your company? Are you reliable and trustworthy? Are you innovative and forward thinking? Are you aspirational and elite?
These are things that inform your tone of voice.
2. Write as much as possible in five minutes
Put a timer on your watch or phone. Just five minutes is plenty. Now start writing. Write in your own natural voice about your business or product.
Use this time limitation to force out that flow. After a minute, it will start to come naturally. Your sentences will have a better cadence. They’ll have a natural rhythm and bounce.
The more you think, the more clumsy and dense your writing becomes. Stop thinking and just write. That’s the closest thing to your natural tone.
Have you seen any great examples of copy you love online? I’d love to hear about them.
Daren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha.com and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Google+ and Twitter.
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