Letting brand identity take over the practical aspects of your product or service can be counter-productive. Here’s what not to do…
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story
Last month I became the proud father of a new baby boy.
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To help cope with our expanding family, we have been looking around for a double stroller to ferry my new son and his 22-month-old brother around town in a suitably stylish manner.
While I was feeling a bit out of my depth here, fortunately my wife was up to date with the latest trends in the double stroller category, helping ensure that we ended up with the latest “must have” brand.
However, once we got our smart new purchase home, I discovered that this particular brand’s “hipness” also extended through to the style in which its manuals were produced.
It seems that someone in their marketing department had decided that the “brand personality” should infuse every piece of communication put out by the brand – right through to the self-assembly manual.
As a result, this rather important piece of literature had become a beautifully designed brochure filled with the occasional “arty” photograph that scarcely resembled any of the elements spread out on my living room floor.
And the “explanatory” text was even worse – opting for brevity and chattiness at the expense of clear instructions.
Several hours later, let’s say I was not praising the copywriter’s elegant turn of phrase!
Now I’m the first to agree that a brand should aim to develop a distinctive tone of voice that it is able to express consistently across its communications, but this needs to be viewed in the context of the task at hand.
Text in particular has a responsibility to communicate a message, and often this may need to be delivered in a more straightforward manner.
No problem if that message can also be delivered in an engaging style, but this should only be where it enhances the clarity of communication, rather than replacing it.
But this issue is not restricted to instruction manuals.
Many is the time that I have read text in print ads that feels as if it is trying too hard to be “creative”, to the degree where I end up being unsure exactly what point they are trying to get across.
Good text has a job to do, and that is to inform, to educate, to explain, to compare, to provoke, to persuade. If it can do all of that in a way that is also entertaining, then everyone is a winner.
But if text starts to focus more on the way in which it communicates, rather than what it actually says, then I would suggest that type of copy belongs elsewhere. Like a bookshop for instance.
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Leanne McDonald writes: I don’t even want to be entertained by a how-to brochure. I want it to communicate with me in the shortest time and the easiest way possible how to do something.