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B is for: Branding

Updated: Apr 20

Well obviously. I couldn't not mention branding when it comes to copy. Here's why.


Let’s talk about branding. Why do businesses and organisations need it? What does it do and what exactly is it?


When we think of branding, most of us automatically think about a logo or slogan for a well-known company. Take McDonalds. I’m Lovin’ It and the golden arches logo are both copyrighted trademarks and instantly recognisable.


What about Nike? Just Do It and the ‘Swoosh’ are also known the world-over. To many, this is what branding is: design and a strapline.


But branding is much more than some graphics and an anecdote. Branding also incorporates copy and by copy, I mean more than a slogan. Branding is also the copy which appears throughout a website, advert or on the product itself. The copy that you use on any marketing materials or any public-facing item is part of your branding. If it represents your brand, it part of your branding. Everything from the name down to the small print on the back of the bottle – if it represents your business or organisation, that’s branding.


Look who’s talking.


Copywriting is the personality of branding. Think of it as the voice of your brand. Your logo may be your face but your copy is the voice and absolutely crucial to brand identity. Crafted correctly and creatively, the copy you use on all your marketing can be strong enough to represent and convey your brand and product, even on its own.


Consider Innocent drinks for a moment – their copy has a distinctive, consistent tone of voice (TOV) across every medium. From their billboard ads, to social media, to their drink bottles - even the ingredients list. All of it is on brand, all with the Innocent tone of voice. Cheeky, quirky and bold, Innocent have embraced copy within their branding to the point that their tone of voice alone is recognisable – quite an achievement. Strip back their logo and any other identifying features and their copy is still very easily identifiable as Innocent. They are a great example of how and why copywriting should be part of branding strategy. So how have they done it?


The secret to their success is partly to do with two things which they nailed: originality and opinion.


Innocent’s TOV is original. Prior to their use, there wasn’t a prevalent trend to use quirky, chirpy copy in marketing. Everything was a bit more matter of fact. Adverts may have been witty and sharp but seldom did that TOV consistently follow down to every part of a product’s copy.


Innocent decided to tip that upside down and rightly so – why should a drink bottle label be boring? Why should a brand voice be boring? Consistency in your TOV is fundamentally part of the brand and a brand without consistency is weak. Innocent launched their TOV style consistently and boldly and it took off. They were original in this approach in that none of their competitors were doing the same. By being a bit different, they were able to set a trend that few have managed to adequately replicate. Where other brands have decided to go for the same cheeky approach, it has either come across as imitation (which lacks creativity) or as a little try-too-hard (which lacks authenticity). What Innocent have proven is that to have a recognisable, successful brand TOV, you must be original.


That takes us nicely on to opinion.


Innocent’s TOV isn’t just cheeky and quirky. It has opinion. By daring to be a little different, their creative approach has likewise put forward an opinion: we are Innocent and it’s ok to be a bit different.


When creating a TOV, it is important to consider the opinion of your brand. Your copy is the voice that brings that to life. It’s near on impossible to craft a distinctive TOV without opinion – to grab attention and keep it, your brand has to stand for something – otherwise it will fall. Opinion humanises copy by making it both authentic and relatable. It may also make it controversial. Either way, the opinion of your TOV will hold attention. Without it and it’s likely that your copy will lack oomph and be far less memorable.


Some other examples of brands that have launched with strong and distinctive tones of voice include Muzmatch and Oatly.


Of all the Muslim marriage sites out there, Muzmatch are making their mark – thanks largely to their witty, pun-plentiful copy. From ‘Halal…from the other side’ featuring an Adele look-alike in a hijab, to my personal favourite the Lionel Richie themed ‘Halal, is it me you’re looking for?’ Muzmatch are getting noticed by young, single Muslims and many others too. Their campaign features across billboards and tube adverts globally and continues seamlessly to their website. It’s original in this sector, creative and memorable. What’s more it has opinion – the opinion that it is time to switch up marketing in the Muslim sector and make finding a marriage partner fun.


Finally, we can’t go without mentioning recent adverts from Oatly. Although they have been met with mixed review (at least on Twitter), Oatly’s tone of voice is strong. It’s Innocent-esque without being too similar. It’s a little bit sarcastic and quite a bit passive-aggressive. It’s bold but fun and most of all it is consistent not just in style but also opinion. Take for instance this sentence on their About section of their YouTube channel (yes a milk drink has its own YouTube channel): “Our sole purpose as a company is to make it easy for people to turn what they eat and drink into personal moments of healthy joy without recklessly taxing the planet’s resources in the process.” Clear opinion and stance with no-holds barred delivery. That is the Oatly tone of voice.



Are you thinking about your brand copy? Is it strong? Is it recognisable? Let me know if you need some help finding your voice.


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