Web copy is a far more difficult than it looks. Tone, style and brand consistency are of course fundamental to fulfilling a brief, but it’s growing increasingly common for clients not to know what tone they want. Throw search terms into the mix and you have the recipe for potentially bad copy!
What we recommend is for clients to have a good hard think about what they need from their web copy before they meet with us. Here are three things that are useful to think about before meeting your web copywriter:
Have a look at other sites. Your competitors and other companies that are in the same genre as you (industry, service, product or information) may have a tone or style that you like. Make a note of the URL, as well as elements about the copy you particularly like, and take your top three along to your copy brief meeting (or better still email them over first!).
Don’t come to a copywriter and say: “I want the copy to sell, but I don’t want it to be ‘salesy’; I want it to inform and be friendly, but I also want it to target businesses and for us to come across as experts. I don’t want it to be too techie, but I don’t want us to be fluffy”. All it will do is lead to generic copy lacking personality: we don’t like writing it; you don’t like reading it. Choose buzz words carefully and then…
Choose which parts of your brand’s identity are most important to you. Do you want to come across as:
• Formal or Colourful
• Salesy or Informative
• Passive or Active
• Conventional or Quirky
In a perfect world you would have looked at this when you were checking your search terms. Remember, those terms will be built into the copy so if you don’t want to come across as a posh villa in busy Spain for example, ensure the search term isn’t there, and scrutinise the rest for a cohesive brand identity.
Sadly you can’t be all things to all people. The strongest brands are honest and they are the ones that people buy into most. Think about how you want to speak to your audience. Think about who your audience is.
As branding and marketing is evolving, we are seeing a shift away from successful products and services satisfying their demographic simply by providing a great product/service at a fair price. As these things become less important to the consumer, what we see is the emphasis instead placed upon the identity of the brand. Are you a Mac or a PC person? Do you drink Coca-cola or Mecca-cola? Do you shop in Jack Wills or Primark? Consumers are buying into these brands as symbols for their identity, not just product and price.
Brand identity is vital to attract your demographic and persuade them to invest in your brand which says something about themselves. New questions must be asked. Instead of posing your users questions about what they want – you need to instead ask them who they are. The important aspects of your average target must then be replicated, both in the style and tone of your website. To communicate effectively you should sound and look like your users.
So, who are you and what do you want to say?