By Simon Glickman
I’m a copywriter. This has nothing to do with copyright (of intellectual property and whatnot); I write copy, mostly for businesses – verbiage for websites, taglines for advertising, articles for newsletters, blogs, blurbs, tweets, bios, press releases and a lot more.
But unlike the majority of copywriters, I don’t work for an agency. Instead, in partnership with my wife (herself a writer, as well as a superb editor), I founded one: Editorial Emergency, LLC, is based out of our home on the northern tip of Los Angeles. We love being independent, and have had the good fortune, on a couple of occasions, to be enlisted to craft messages about the virtues of local commerce.
On behalf of the wonderful Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce – a truly civic-minded organization that reflects the idealism, inclusiveness and progressive values of the L.A. neighborhood it represents – we named and helped brand the “shop locally” campaign. We settled on the tagline “Keep the Silver in Silver Lake,” and wrote some key collateral to underscore the value of spending one’s dollars in the area.
I’m proud to see my work around Silver Lake – and to be a part of the movement to support its independent spirit.
More recently, I was hired to write an e-blast about STIHL’s Independent We Stand initiative. Working on this project led me to the IWS blog, and an opportunity to share some thoughts on branding an independent business.
Just as I’d urge each community to coin a unique slogan rather than a generic catch-all like “shop locally” – preferably a phrase that captures the inherent virtues and qualities of the place – I encourage independent businesses to think carefully about how best to articulate their brands in words. What sets you apart, particularly if you represent a local alternative to some national chain? How can you speak authentically to customers in your area? What is the “voice” of your business?
By “voice,” I mean the tone, style, diction and attitude of your brand’s EVERY verbal manifestation: Your signs, your slogans, your brochures, your website, your e-blasts, your Facebook page (you DO have one, right?), your outgoing message, your invoices and receipts. Ideally, each of these “touch points” should be a reminder of the connection you’ve established with your customers. Because in the end, that’s what your brand is.
The voice of your business should be reflective of who you are. It can be calm and welcoming, or it might be effusive and playful. It can even be gruff, as long as beneath that gruffness customers can see the qualities that make you a trusted provider of goods and/or services. But whatever it is, that voice should come through every time you “speak” to customers and the community.
Of course, if you’re not a writer, crafting all that content can be a daunting task – particularly since you’ve got a business to run. So you may want to hire a business like ours to take all that work off your plate. But if you DO decide to write it all yourself, remember: Keep it authentic and consistent. (And for goodness’ sake, proofread everything carefully – you don’t want people to associate your precious brand with embarrassing mistakes.)
If people are choosing between patronizing your business and some national or regional chain, bear in mind that being local is a strength. You know your community and the people who live there as well as anyone; if your brand voice can call out to them in a genuine way, you’ll form the kind of bond no conglomerate can hope to achieve.
Photo Credit, Jason Rushing