Why a strong tone of voice is the ultimate Tinder turn on for your brand.

Correct grammar AND a witty tone of voice – The biggest turn on, ever. 

Spare me the six pack, body oil and Al Green tunes, my Tinder profile would be all about Merriam Webster approved lingo and dates who know their shit, as opposed to not knowing they’re shit. If you can spin the keyboard decks like Pandora Sykes or Zoe Foster Blake I’ll happily don a white dress, or should I say, take off a white dress. 

Before I get too Fifty Shades of Grey on you, let me relate this back to branding and business.

The thing is, like me, your customers too, want to read prose as smooth as honey and tasty as treacle. As you know, over the last decade ‘branding’ and all that it encompasses has really come into the spotlight. At first, companies started focusing on the idea of branding by simply jazzing up their logos – cue the millions of makeovers from traditional block serif to sexy sans serif, and a complete exodus of intricate illustrations and literal icons. Then, fast forward a few more years and we see this movement morph as companies start taking all visual aspects of their business up a notch – no longer was it okay to have mis-matched fonts, crappy stock imagery and neon gyrating gifs. And now, in 2019?! It’s all about that clever copy and distinct tone of voice. Straight shooting, heartfelt, emotionally engaging, creative, concise, charming, trust-inducing, share-worthy, SEO-genius copy that converts. Right now, I’d say your copy is the difference between a booming business or a business booing.

But, like, no pressure, or anything.

Since the inception of Smack Bang in 2011, I’ve been writing this here ol’ little blog every two weeks, (that was at least until my daughter came into the world and robbed me of my sleep). It’s been an absolute labour of love, super satisfying and at times hard to keep up with (FYI – sleep deprivation and creativity are a match made in hell). But the one thing that I have loved most about this writing commitment is the practice it has granted me in refining my writing skills.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. I’ve written almost 220 blogs, and at approximately 4 hours each, that makes me not quite yet a master (juuuuust missed my quota by a mere 9,120 hours). However, I do feel the beauty of writing consistently is that over time you begin to distil your process and whilst the blank paper in front of you never gets any less daunting, the practice of storytelling and articulation becomes all the more easier. In my 880 hours, I’ve had a truck load of practice at refining the Smack Bang tone of voice. So much so, I can no longer discern between it and my own personal tone of voice – which, I believe it just as it should be as a founder.

But why is clever copywriting and nailing your tone of voice so important to your business’ bottom line?

Because simply put, copy converts.

The right copy aligned with the right brand builds trust with the right target market. And we all know that trust means loyalty, and that loyalty is the bedrock of a thriving business.

If you use the right copy to help market your business, it can skyrocket your exposure, clarify your offering, catapult your conversion rate and put you on the fast train to the business hall of fame.

The thought of writing something that strangers, and god-forbid, potential customers might read used to make my spleen shiver in fear. But over time and with a hell of a lot of practice, it has now become second nature to me. I’ve written about how to craft the perfect tone of voice before, and even shared with you a book that I think every copy writing marketer needs to read. But today I want to talk about WHY copywriting is so darn important for your brand.

‘Tis true, design captures your audience’s attention, but it’s your tone of voice that keeps them engaged, communicates your viewpoint and forms a lasting connection. At Smack Bang, we like to say ‘Design turns heads and copy turns minds’. After all, design is the heart of your brand, and your writing is the lungs, you need both to keep your brand alive and thriving.

Having a strategic, strong and clear copy guide in place will keep your brand voice from straying into no-man’s land.

Crafting a unique tone of voice means you’ll be talking to the right people – people who work with you, for you and who champion your every move from the sidelines.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  1. Bad copy is bad for business.

    We have all read copy that makes us cringe. It may be hard to put a finger on exactly what it is that makes the copy so bad but nonetheless, a lack of appeal definitely does not go unnoticed. You might have the most resplendent design to have ever graced the Earth, but if you can’t get your words in order, or if your grammar makes your text read like pig latin, then you’ll reap what you sow. A lack of care in the way you are presenting yourself and your business just shows pure unprofessionalism – just ask Trump.

  1. Good copy gets you noticed.

    Good salesmen (and women) are not verbose. They don’t use unnecessary, fancy, extravagant words for the sake of it. They speak like your loving older sister. Clear, kind and confident. You should be able to communicate your copy without the over-the-top embellishment of sale language that’s about as smooth as a bulldog chewing a wasp. Remember, consumers buy products from brands that they connect with on an emotional level and steer clear from brands that they don’t so make sure your copy conveys empathy rather than hard sells.

  1. Clear copy clarifies what you stand for.

    Words bring your brand to life. Building familiarity and trust is crucial to building a successful brand. To keep your loyal supporters loyal and your hard workers working hard, you’ve got to not only gain their trust but keep it. Therefore, you’ve got to practice what you preach. If you’re always banging on about being an eco-conscious sustainable brand, don’t go wrapping your products in layers of plastic while sipping on your Starbucks-mocha-latte just do your best to uphold your values.

  1. Copy gives your brand a human heart.

    People won’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why it’s so important to give your brand a personality that your ideal customer can not only recognise but can relate to on a human level. People love hearing about people – we are one seriously narcissistic species. We want to know they aren’t alone in our struggles, that someone has suffered the same challenges we have and can tell us how they overcame them.

  1. Meaningful copy makes you memorable.

    In a sea of bland and boring content, a distinctive, grabbing voice can make you easily stand out from your competition. Therefore, you’ve got to make it considered and impactful. To quote the father of advertising, David Ogilvy, himself, “Tell the truth but make truth fascinating. You know, you can’t bore people into buying your project. You can only interest them in buying it”. Think about the way you use your words and the impression it makes on everyone who comes in contact with them – meaningful copy will influence and persuade.

  1. To state the obvious, words sell.

    Words hold the power to tell a story and captivate the hearts of many. Once you understand your audiences’ needs, your copy will then convince them that your solution can alleviate their pain most efficiently. At the end of the day, we are not just using language to list our features, or strategically serve up words to encourage your audience to take further action, we want to use copy to help our customers find reasons to fall in love with us. Because after all, all the best stories have a happily ever after.

Image credit: Jessica Walsh

How to communicate a rebrand with grace and gusto

Do you ever have those thoughts of ‘Thank GOD I don’t have that haircut anymore?’ Like when I look back at photos from the early 2000s and realise that I had a peroxide blonde mullet? #nojoke

Or looking back at that dreadful 90s outfit you donned as a kid and thank your lucky stars that you’re actually somewhat fashionable now? (Thanks for the polka dot leotard with matching scrunchie mum!)

Or realising that you once drove a 1991 rusty Nissan Pulsar that was rustier than a tin shed and feeling ever so grateful for your sleek new Volkswagen Tiguan.

I love discovering little life hacks like that that fill you with newfound self-confidence.

I get this feeling when I look back at the Smack Bang logo circa 2011.

At the time I had a sickly obsession with bright turquoise green – like the kind of green you need sunnies on to look at. Our logo had a bright green circle behind it that felt like the nightclub lights turning on when it was time to head home and, in retrospect, fills me with the same kind of anxiety.

(Let it also be known that I even painted one of our studio walls this colour. I’m not sure what I thinking, but the creative juices were obviously really starting to fire up.)

When I compare that ‘brand’ to our now slick, sexy and sophisticated brand, I am elated with confidence, clarity and a massive sense of relief.

The power of a rebrand, no matter how big, can be truly business-transforming. 

I recently fell down the rabbit hole that is our rather juicy archive of projects. I got all the way from A to M (and only aged a few years in the process), and stumbled across our designs for one of our most treasured clients, Mukti. Sifting through the files in that folder sure was a trip down memory lane. When Mukti first came to us, her beautiful formulations were trapped inside outdated little bottles that no longer reflected the quality and greatness of where she wanted her brand to be. We’ve worked with Mukti over the last 5 years to reposition and alchemise her brand from bland to grand and have since rebranded almost every aspect of her business. It has been one of the most satisfying projects to date because we’ve seen first-hand what an impact a refresh and repositioning can have on a business’ bottomline.

In Mukti’s case, a rebrand was necessary to encourage growth and clarify their services,

“I wanted our brand to be cleaner and less pigeon-holed as a
hippy-boho-natural-organic brand. I want to be taken seriously
as a global contender – an organic skincare brand that delivers real results.”

The Mukti rebrand and repositioning is just one of many projects where we’ve had the pleasure of playing make-over magic and helping our clients reap the rewards of a refresh.

I’ve written about why to rebrand and how to rebrand before, but I haven’t shared how to communicate a rebrand to your audience. A rebrand, when done for the right reasons, is a surefire way to get positive alignment for your brand, both externally and internally.

Here are my six golden rules to revealing a rebrand to an existing audience without losing your street cred.

  1. BE TRANSPARENT.
    When a company rebrands, there’s always the fear that your existing audience will feel alienated or confused by the change. The biggest fear Mukti had when it came to rebranding was exactly that:

    “I was scared that if it was radically different our customers may not
    recognise the brand. But I believe my approach to business has evolved
    and matured. I do my best not to be attached and to be open to others
    input and advice. Sometimes letting go is hard especially if decisions are taken
    out of your hands but in order to grow you have to take the leap of faith,
    experience a little discomfort and jump into the void.”

    We often find that when our clients are more vocal and transparent about the reasons for their rebrand, their customers aren’t alienated at all, and in many cases step up to offer their encouragement and support. If you’re transparent with your audience about why you’re rebranding, then there’s more potential for them to get behind your mission and support you on your voyage.

  2. PLAY THE LONG GAME.
    The quickest way to lose customers through a rebrand is to implement your changes overnight, without a word of warning. This is particularly the case if your rebrand is a dramatic change from your old get-up.

    Back in 2010 GAP (or more officially, The Gap) did exactly this. One day they were the familiar old, preppy, GAP, and the next? Customers went to the company’s website expecting to see the familiar dark blue box and white name were met with a logo that left them confused. It was impossible to tell if this was even the same clothing store? It’s safe to say the rebrand was a complete flop, and within a matter of weeks they reverted back to their old branding *Command Z* and see-ya-later $100 million (that was an expensive mistake).

    Ensure you communicate your rebrand to your followers far in advance. Sit down with your team and come up with the a well-thought-out timing strategy to execute the evolution. If it happens too slowly, you’ll lose the impact and rewards of a rebrand. If it happens too fast, your customers will be confused and, most likely, resentful.

  3. GET ON THE SOAPBOX (ALL OF THEM).
    It’s essential to make use of every tool in the communications toolbox to let people know about your new positioning and new brand. Your blog, social media accounts, email and even mailing lists should all be included as you roll out your rebrand.

    Remember, that all of your followers connect with your brand in different ways, some people will learn of your refresh via social, but others will be more inclined to read a newsletter. Check that you cover all bases by getting up on all your different soapboxes to ensure all your party people are kept in the loop and reassured they’re going to get the same great products, services or dedication to mission that they’ve come to expect.

  4. DOUBLE WHAMMIES ARE WAY MORE FUN.
    When we launched our latest brand refresh and spankin’ new website at Smack Bang last year, we also launched an entire new portfolio collection. This was a great plan of action because it gave us a reason to talk to our audience about the rebrand and also gave people a reason to care. Using a double whammy is a great approach – for us, we saw an increase in traffic to our website and greater interest in our studio, because there was a better understanding of what we offered, and our audience weren’t only interested in the new look, but also had an opportunity to view all of our most recent work. Have a think about what kind of double-pronged approach you can use with a rebrand? It might be the release of a new collection, the addition of a new service, a brand spankin’ promo? Whatever it is, remember to articulate it clearly and give your people something to care about.
  5. DON’T DROP YOUR STANDARDS.
    Strategies, like being transparent and timely about your rebrand, go a long way toward retaining customers. But the best way to avoid a drop in business is to focus on maintaining excellent service, particularly during this transition time. During and after a rebrand is the best time to really assert your brand values, ensuring that your customer service is next level top-notch! By going the extra mile when you have all these extra eyeballs on you, your customers will feel like the rebrand was the best darn thing you ever did.

  6. TALE POLE POSITION.
    Assert your new brand positioning with confidence and clarity. Your approach should be reliable and genuine, not hand-deliver-a-thousand-cupcakes-level eager to explain every single design decision you made to get there. Ensure you and your team are onboard with the reasons why you’ve rebranded and get super-duper crystal clear on your brand values, mission and vision. By having a strong positioning on the DNA of your brand, you’ll be able to better communicate what the rebrand means for your customer. The more articulate, confident and succinct you are, the better your customers will be able to understand what the rebrand means for them.

Image credit: Joost Termeer

Long distance relationships… Who says they don’t work? (In fact, they happen to be our speciality!)

The single greatest thing about being an adult in the 21st Century would surely have to be the internet. I mean, who wouldn’t agree?

We can now learn how to calculate Pi by throwing frozen hot dogs, buy a life size wall decal of an asian businessman or take a moment to watch someone eat ice cream off their scalp. What a time to be alive.

The internet has fundamentally changed our world. For better or worse, I’m yet to decide. But there’s certainly no denying that it has simultaneously made our lives so much more efficient, and yet so much more convoluted.

Frankly, it’s a love/loathe relationship for most people. But when you get it right, technology can truly be your best friend. Smack Bang would not be the business it is today without technology, in particular our love-to-loathe friend, Zoom.

As it currently stands, we work with over 500 clients worldwide and have birthed 2,000+ projects in over 20 different countries.

Yesterday alone I went to four different countries (through my trusty phone). At 8am I had a meeting in Toronto about a new retail store opening up, at 10am it was a bakery in New Zealand, at 5pm it was a marketing agency in Copenhagen and then, early evening, it was a random 70 year old’s landline in Double Bay because I dialled the wrong number.

There really has never been easier to connect with our fellow globetrotters, so for anyone thinking about embarking on some cross-continental business relations, let us assure you how easy it is:

  1. Remote teams can be even more productive
    These days, the term ‘digital nomad’ gets thrown around like a trolley in a grocery store. As a founder, I actually steer the Smack Bang ship from 90 mins drive away from the majority of the Sydney team since moving to the tranquil South Coast. Meanwhile our Creative Strategist, Holly, plays her part from Bangalow NSW (a 9 hour drive or 1 hour flight away from our Surry Hills HQ). But we are all only ever a G-chat apart and now really think about agendas and outcomes before scheduling meetings, which has made them so much more effective.
  2. Online communities totally transcend borders
    So many of our – and no doubt your – favourite modern brands break down any concept of borders in their customer experience. A great meme, a great product or service, and a great heart can be a common denominator no matter where they come from. We now have direct access to fashion labels in LA, art galleries in Amsterdam, tech in Tel Aviv and pretty much anything/everything you desire through Ali Baba – all from the comfort from our own home, where they arrive on our doorsteps a few days later!
    Australian label, Spell, was born from the (then) small town of Byron Bay. Now its co-founder, Elizabeth, attests 70-80% of their business is purely via online store from every corner of the planet. Swapping local market stalls for blogging their earliest photoshoots catapulted their exposure from just the immediate geographic community to a whole wide web of global eyeballs – and wallets. Big thanks Kevin Systrom – we too owe you a beer!
  3. The creative landscape is well and truly ‘globalised’
    Less than 50% of the SBD audience are in fact based in Australia, the other 50% is made up of a colourful array of other countries around the world. US in second place and old Blightly is number three, followed by NZ, Canada and Germany. Danke schön!
    We recently learnt quite how wide-spread our people are while getting acquainted with the new GDPR changes in the EU. (Shout out to our buddies in Latvia and the lovely Anna who bought Baskk from the tiny island of Symi in Greece.)
  4. Distance makes the heart grow fonder
    There are a number of resources and tools we use to make interstate and international business work like a dream. Zoom aside, our top three must be Calendly, Dropbox and Google docs. All hail the cloud! So much so, many of our all-time favourite projects have been for international brands whose HQs are thousands of kilometres from our own. Namely, Ranavat Botanics (California), Evereden (NYC), One Fine Day (NZ), Mukti (Queensland), One Seed (SA), Fella Villas (Bali) and many more.

It’s safe to say that we are now living in the future, a time when chatting to someone on the other side of the world no longer requires a town crier, a pen and paper, a horse or a freight ship. Technology has advanced the pace of our communications and the sooner our business relationships can use it to our advantage, the better we’ll all be for it.

Chances are you may be reading this from another time zone – and even hemisphere. If so, please let us know where in the comments below. We love to hear from you, and even more, love to work together. You know where to find us!

Image credit: Kelsey McClellan