I won’t tell you how ‘strange’ or ‘unprecedented’ these times are. What I will say is that as much as our daily lives have changed, so too has the world of marketing and copywriting.
No longer are readers responding to the voice of the urgent, plucky salesman. In a world full of pandemic-fuelled uncertainty, everyone is searching for that human voice in the brands they use - a guiding friend to help make things a little easier.
As copywriting professionals, it’s our duty to adapt our tone, our approach and our priorities to connect with our customers - perhaps more deeply than we’ve ever done before.
6 Tips for COVID-Friendly Copy
Adapt your tone of voice
The world is on the edge of its seat at the moment, and not in a fun, thriller-movie way. As such, we need to consider the emotive effect our tone of voice is having on readers. Urgent language, such as buy now, hurry while stocks last should therefore be avoided, replaced instead with a more gentle, supportive tone of voice. You only have to read a magazine or watch an advert to notice that the pandemic is seeing many brands display their human side to consumers, showing a genuine desire to help their customers as a friend - rather than trying to grab their money as a business.
Shelve some vocab
It’s safe to say, we’re now more sensitive to certain words, for example viral, contagious or infectious - and also some others that may not be as obvious as these. Consider the vocab you’re using and whether it now has a double meaning or will leave a negative imprint in the minds of your readers. Another element to consider is the fact we now have a different impression of some words, such as essential. Therefore describing, for example, a Victoria sponge cake as essential may be inappropriate given our new impression of the word. The basic line of advice here is just to be mindful.
If there was ever a time for brands to display responsible messaging, it’s now. Even the fast-food giant, KFC, temporarily shelved their famed Finger Lickin’ Good slogan in the interest of responsible messaging, and have changed their slogans across displays to the more humorous yet informative wash fingers thoroughly before licking. All you need to do is consider what this nugget of advice means for your brand or the brands you represent. For example, if you have an upcoming campaign or planned content piece about going on holiday, perhaps it needs to be stored away for now and replaced with something about having the perfect summer at home. Consumers are relying on brands and their associated messaging for responsible advice: make sure you give it to them.
Don’t be a comedian
Everyone likes a laugh, but nobody wants to feel like they are being cheered up - especially if it’s done clumsily. The truth is, everybody is tenser and more sensitive at the moment, so avoid acting the clown in your copy - but at the same time, don’t be a downer. So, what’s the balance? Try aiming for a positive, upbeat and relaxed tone of voice that doesn’t wisecrack every other sentence, but still leaves the reader feeling lighter than when they first began reading.
Love your local area
While the pandemic is global in scale, it’s put us all more in touch with our local area. Whether that’s helping out a neighbour, visiting small businesses on your street or just getting involved in community projects, the reconnection of people with their local area has been felt across the world. As copywriters, we can therefore stress the family-run, local aspects of the brands we represent to show that our brands share in this community spirit.
Health and wellness
COVID-19 has sparked new interest in health and wellness, and this is something that campaigns could incorporate in the future, as long as it takes a positive slant and avoids any scaremongering. Perhaps articles focussed on the mood-boosting aspects of your product or service, or inspiring ways to stay fit and healthy - rather than the less-than-subtle “how not to get COVID” approach.
We hope you find these tips useful for adapting your copywriting strategy. And remember, the situation is changing all the time, therefore, so should your approach - so our final piece of advice is simple: be responsive, be human and stay safe.