Writing Tip Wednesday: Branding Your Copy

We, at WhiteHat Copy, believe in the “you are how you write” philosophy. We’re not talking about graphology or the analysis of handwriting, but how your copy affects your branding.

Before we get lost in the gobbledygook of jargons, let’s first define branding. A brand, according to Seth Godin, “is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”. In a nutshell, it’s knowing who your audience is — every whim, every quirk, every hidden desire, every fear — and presenting yourself as the best choice for them.

Say you’re an Italian restaurant charging upwards of PhP 1,000 (US$25) per tiny plate of pasta, you simply do not play Air Supply and hope that your customers will actually come back. No, you are asking for a bad review. Not to disparage the classic duo, but “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” just doesn’t quite fit in with the ambience when the customer is trying her sophisticated best to twirl her linguine alla bolognese with her fork.

But what does a pricey-sounding plate of noodles have to do with branding, anyway? OK, the pasta in this analogy may not be the entire restaurant, true, but it is to the one who ordered it. The maitre d’ who greeted her and sat her at a nice table, the waiter who patiently stood at her side while she went back and forth between chianti classico and sangiovese di romagna, the jazz music wafting softly in the air, the layered lighting, the spotless floors, the posh decor, the classy cutlery, the prompt service of the attentive staff, and, of course, the pasta (or whatever was ordered), all make up the dining guest’s branding of the restaurant. The experience, the food, the sights and smells determine how she will categorize it. We all do this kind of thing.

If the experience implied/promised by the price tag you put on your product is not delivered, then your entire operation is most likely placed in the Fail category. But if you meet or, on occasion, even exceed the expectations of your customer, naturally, you are tagged a Success.

So, what does this have to do with you, copywriter? Well, if you read our post last Monday, you’ll understand how simple slip-ups can cause incalculable damage in certain contexts. (Although the example we posted has no excuse!) Any collateral you put out there — poster, press release, text blast, a Facebook status, or a Tweet — all reflect on the kind of service you give. If people end up believing your business can’t be bothered to check the correct grammatical use of “announced”, don’t expect the lunch crowd to grow, even with 50% off promos.