The Writer’s 2019 round-up

We do like a writing geek out. (If we didn’t, we’d have to think about putting our name out to tender.) And we don’t discriminate. Ads, road signs, mum’s to-do list – if it gets us talking, it’s going in our bank of favourites.

Before we sign off for 2019, us London creatives have picked out five bits of writing that stuck with us. Here goes…

Carlsberg – probably not the best beer in the world

Carlsberg advert titled 'Probably not the best beer in the world. So we've changed it.'

In a world full of sceptics, a healthy dose of honesty can go a long way. Carlsberg couldn’t ignore the critics any longer – nor did they want to. They launched their new beer and owned up to their past failings in the campaign that went with it.

‘We focused on brewing quantity, not quality. We became one of the cheapest, not the best.’ We’re not used to brands using such frank language. When they do, it forces us to sit up and listen.

There’s great strength in taking such a candid approach. First, it showed they were listening to their customers and doing their best to change things. And second, it made their #newbrew sound all the more intriguing.

If ever you feel as though your brand’s back is up against the wall, try the Carlsberg approach. Own up to your flaws and make it work for you.

Revolut – Ts & Cs rewrite

We’ve always been a strong campaigner for a clear writing style. If you join any of our training sessions, you’re bound to see a study or two fighting the cause. But legal teams and their documents are often the hardest to sway.

So when we heard Revolut had a breakthrough, we were pretty chuffed. They rewrote their Ts & Cs to make them ‘clear, simple and easy to understand’.

It’s proof these documents aren’t a tone of voice no-go zone. These are the contracts that set out the legal relationship with customers, and businesses owe it to them to make those terms as clear as possible.

Okay, only a small portion of customers ever need to use them. But when they do, it’s often because they want to lodge a complaint. If they’re easier to read, those customers are less likely to grumble.  

Itch

Itch pets adverts with dog puns

Puns should always be used with some trepidation. One false move and you can end up sounding like an embarrassing uncle. You know the one – coming soon to a dinner table near you. But these are p-Itch purr-fect.

They get a smile out of dog and cat lovers everywhere and, more importantly, do a great job of promoting their products. But there’s no use using puns or humour for the hell of it. It’s got to be appropriate for your brand. Otherwise you really are just barking up the wrong tree.

citizenM

citizenM's feedback form when you checkout from their hotel.

We’ve always been a fan of citizenM. So much so in fact, we took a client to one of their hotels this year to show them what a great tone of voice looks like in action.

They leave no stone unturned, making sure their voice shows up in every nook and cranny. From the welcome mat in their lobby, right down to the feedback form they send you when you checkout.

Considering not many people take time out to complete these forms, it’d be ever so easy to go down the generic route. But not citizenM. Any opportunity for their tone to shine, they take it. And build their brand in the process.

These moments make a lasting impression on people. Especially in these instances where it’s the last point of contact with the customer. It could be the difference between counting on their return custom and watching them disappear into the sunset.

The New York Times – The British and Irish dialect quiz

Our final winner shut down the office momentarily. The quiz asks you a series of multiple-choice questions and will locate where you were brought up, almost to the borough, by the answers you choose.

It might ask, ‘What is your name for the playground game where one child chases another?’ Is it tag, had, it, tiggy, tuggy, or touch (the list goes on)? The answers drum up all manner of nostalgia. Taking you back to when you bought a chip butty, bap, or roll that time you first skived off, dogged off, or played hooky from school.

It’s such a fun celebration of how expressive language can be – how every region has its own relationship with it, and will bend and mould it to best suit the sound and character of their accent. Give the quiz a try. We’re sure you’ll have as much fun as we did.

So, what tips can we take with us into 2020:

Stay honest. Open up about your faults, they’re often what make your brand interesting.

Use clear, natural language. Even legal teams are coming around.

Play with puns respectfully. Don’t take guidance from your Christmas cracker.

Put your tone everywhere. In the big campaigns and on the tiniest of labels. And everything in between.

And do the New York Times quiz.

Happy holidays.

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