brand language matters

A brand website isn’t just about giving people information. It’s about starting a conversation with your audience about why you’re relevant to them and how you’re going to make their lives better by meeting their needs. Most people who visit your brand’s website don’t really care about you; they want to know what you can do for them. To give your audience what they’re looking for and to set them up to convert, your website needs to “talk” to them in a way that resonates with who they are and what their goals are. That is, the copy (i.e., text) on your website needs to match the type of people you’re trying to reach.

Far too often, brands fail to tailor the writing style used on their website (and other brand communication) to their target audience. For example, you don’t have to spend too much time searching online to find a website that reads like this:

“At ABC Med Tech, we’re not just a medical equipment manufacturer; we facilitate the marriage of high-quality craftsmanship and sound medical expertise to create truly innovative products. Carefully navigating the line between creativity and practicality, we’re committed to producing industry-leading equipment that supports, inspires, and transforms. Our products are uniquely built to reflect the goals you make, the values you hold, and the passion that fuels the work you do.”

At first glance, this copy may seem impressive because it sounds poetic. Imagine, though, that you’re a doctor who’s shopping around for new stethoscopes. You’ve come to the ABC Med Tech site to find out what it has offer and why it’s the best brand to buy from. Did the description you just read give you any information about what ABC Med Tech really sells? Did it tell you what sets ABC products apart from those made by its competitors? Did it tell you anything about how ABC products align with your needs or goals (e.g., to buy affordable stethoscopes that are durable and easy to carry around all day)? Nope.

What ABC’s website did tell you is that the brand “carefully navigates the line between creativity and practicality” and creates equipment that “supports, inspires, and transforms.” When you really stop and think about them, though, what do these statements actually mean? What the heck is medical equipment that inspires and transforms? What does it inspire and how does it transform? And do doctors actually want medical equipment that inspires? It’s probably not their key concern. Instead, they’re likely looking for products that are high in quality, made to last, and affordable.

Most doctors are also incredibly busy, so they tend to prefer text that gives them the info they’re looking for as quickly as possible. They don’t want to waste time deciphering vague and abstract haikus about your products, so don’t make them. The last thing you want is to frustrate potential leads or lose them altogether because they couldn’t make sense of what you have to offer them.

Remember, poetic copy isn’t necessarily effective copy, and well-written copy doesn’t have to sound like a sonnet. It just needs to describe what you can do for your audience in a way that resonates with them. In many cases, simple words and concrete language are the way to go:

“At ABC Med Tech, we know that you’ve got a lot on your plate, so we’re here to lighten the load. Our stethoscopes are the lightest in the industry, making them easy to carry while dashing around the hospital or running between clinics. Made from durable materials and shipped directly from our factory, ABC stethoscopes are built to last, not to break the bank. With high-quality attachments for adult, pediatric, and neonatal patients, we’ve got you covered no matter who walks in your door.”

Notice how this version of copy clearly and concretely explains what ABC sells (i.e., stethoscopes), what sets its products apart from those made by competitors (i.e., “our stethoscopes are the lightest in the industry”), and how its products align with users’ values (e.g., “easy to carry around” and “built to last, not to break the bank”). Users don’t have to guess what phrases like “carefully navigates the line between creativity and practicality” are supposed to mean. Instead, they get simple language and accessible metaphors that give them the information they’re looking for.

Of course, abstract, poetic language isn’t the only trendy marketing speak that’s plaguing brand communication these days. There are others too:

  • Chummy language: With the rise of the tech industry, we haven’t had to look far to find brands using casual, chummy language, language that’s designed to make it seem like these brands really care about us and want to be our best friends. Lyft (“Lyft is your friend with a car, whenever you need one.”) and dry cleaning service Alfred (“Hello. I’m Alfred. At your service.”) are just some of the many brands that use this type of language in their brand communication.
  • Artisan speak: As farmers’ markets, organic food, and independent cafés have become increasingly popular, brands of all sizes have been looking to appeal to customers by framing their products as authentic, handcrafted goods. Of course, this approach makes sense for small, family-run pickled food ventures or leather goods artists, but even large corporations are trying to jump onto the artisan bandwagon. In a great LinkedIn post about artisan speak, Nick Parker explains why it doesn’t make sense for Costa Coffee to describe its coffee as “handcrafted” in ads. CBC even parodied the trend in a video about artisanal firewood.

Of course, poetic, chummy, and artisan-inspired language aren’t inherently bad choices for brand communication. If they truly fit your brand’s audience and what your brand stands for, you should feel free to go ahead and use them. If you’re a supplier targeting people in artistic industries (e.g., musicians or interior designers), poetic, highly metaphorical language may be appropriate. If you built your brand on the premise that you’re accessible to customers and have the best customer service in the industry, then chummy language may be your best bet. What you don’t want to do, though, is chose a style that doesn’t fit your brand just because it seems impressive or trendy. Remember, your words may sound good to you, but you’re not the one who matters.

Have questions about how to select the best writing style for your brand? Leave us a note in our comments section below and we’ll get in touch. Your question may even inspire one of our upcoming posts!

Inpression Editing helps businesses, professionals, and students make the best impression possible on customers, investors, hiring managers, and admissions committees. We do this by providing copywriting, editing, and writing coaching services for website copy, blog posts, marketing materials, personal statements, and much more.

Located in Toronto, Canada, we provide all of our services in both Canadian and US English. Get an instant quote here.

Tailoring brand communication to your audience: Selecting the right writing style for your website based on the people you’re trying to reach
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