Brand tone of voice: this is the way a company sounds as an entity. Businesses may not be people in the sense that they should be able to contribute huge amounts of money to political causes, but they do have a group voice, and they matter. Companies like MailChimp are renowned for having distinctive, engaging corporate voices, but who else is doing it right?
Planet Fitness: Judgment Free Zone
Known for being the economical option in gym memberships, Planet Fitness has taken a solid stance with their brand tone of voice. And what's more, they haven't backed down from a position that has some more serious health enthusiasts miffed (my more athletic friends among them).
Rather than trying to compete with more robust gym offerings, Planet Fitness targeted the large majority of us who would rather watch the Biggest Loser than re-enact it. Across all of their efforts, the Planet Fitness voice emphasizes a sense of belonging over anything else.
And it's a wise choice—the message "you are not alone" is much stronger than "you are not healthy enough yet." And urban-cowboy agency Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners applied the verbal rough edges that resonate with those of us who are well into the double digits of body fat.
But did it work? According to the New York Times, absolutely: membership has increased 25% in a year and female members in particular are three times the industry average.
When it comes to finding content with verbal precision, Experience Goddess Oonie Chase nailed it. In an industry that's traditionally ignored the nuance of human sexuality, MakeLoveNotPorn.tv aspires to offer us more.
Previously, options for finding erotic content included: search based on sex act terms or stereotypical roles, recommendations from others, looking at a few tiny scene captures, and good old trial and error. In short, the majority of pornography (and ways of finding it), relied upon objectification rather than something deeper.
Since MLNP took an unconventional approach to providing erotic video, it makes perfect sense that they took a likewise unconventional approach to finding it. The team created language around this material not previously available, using tags like: tender, talkative, joyful, married, and sensual. When's the last time you saw that in the back room of your local sex shop? It's truly inspiring to see an industry building a sophisticated language around what was mostly grunting and pointing before.
Subaru: Experience Over Status
This car company may just be the only one whose ads I a) don't hate and b) remember. They've been putting out some great commercials that do something wonderful: they don't talk about features. Hell, a good portion of screen time doesn't even focus on the car itself, but rather the environment in which the car exists. What matters to Subaru owners is what experience they can have with their vehicle, not the car itself.
It's like they took the Volkswagon approach of contextualizing what makes their product great one step further. Sometimes, what you don't say speaks louder for your brand than what you do say.
American Cancer Society: Official Sponsor of Birthdays
I wish I could do a slow clap for that tagline. I mean really, it's an incredible challenge to take a topic that's deeply difficult and turn it into something hopeful that doesn't sound saccharin. I believe credit for that feat goes to The Martin Agency.
I love this example of brand voice because it isn't easy. MailChimp's playfulness isn't necessarily easy to create, mind you, but being funny and off-beat is a little more natural than being authentically inspiring as well as calm and approachable. To replicate the feeling of having someone who understands what a cancer patient is going through in copy tone is an achievement to tip your hat to a few times.
Voices like these make me feel happier when it comes to writing copy for the purpose of selling something, whether it's an idea or a product. I've enjoyed creating web content partially because most of the time, someone intentionally visits a site with purpose as opposed to having an ad thrust upon them. But when done well, advertising can be an art—and one that's worthwhile for everyone.
Now what I'm still trying to figure out is why cat supply companies haven't capitalized on the fact that they may be the only industry that could legitimately leverage cat videos to sell a product.