What makes customers loyal to a brand? Of course, product quality plays a huge role. But when consumers are presented with a choice, brand loyalty is often built on a compelling tone of voice.
Many industry leaders and market disruptors have grown their audience on a clear proposition and strong personality. We all know how Innocent changed the game when it launched its quirky marketing voice in 1999, and thousands of brands have been trying to replicate its tone ever since. But what about the brands who are daring to be different in their respective spaces?
Here are nine companies from across the food and beauty industries who understand who their customers are and how to talk to them. And the result is some truly inspiring product packaging and brand marketing…
The healthy snack market is big business, and most brands focus on premium ingredient descriptions or ‘good for you’ claims to market their problems. But Nakd brings a light touch to their tone of voice, which makes their snack bars stand out.
“Just fruit and nuts smooshed together” is their description of what you get in a Nakd bar, and this honest, informal approach really works. Product claims are clear on their product packaging, and their conversation tone continues seamlessly across their website: in Nakd’s own words: “eating well can be confusing. Have you ever looked at the back of your cereal bar wrapper to see what’s in it? We like to keep things simple.”
We also enjoy the way Nakd brings its tone of voice to life across its promotional activities, including its “Mind. Blown.” TV advertising campaign.
2. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club is the poster child for how to talk to a male audience without being clichéd. Its products are convenient and no-nonsense, so its tone of voice follows suit. For example, while the company has branched out from razors into personal care products, it always keeps the product copy limited to a simple description.
As a subscription service, the Dollar Shave Club uses product delivery boxes to bring its brand to life – declaring “I like shaving with a dull razor. Said no one, ever” on the packaging, before reminding users to change their blade every week. Not only is this a helpful tip; it’s a good reason to invest in a regular Dollar Shave Club delivery.
One of the more controversial aspects to Dollar Shave Club’s brand voice – which doesn’t work for everyone, but works for them – is their choice to include expletives in their copy. The first video on their YouTube channel, entitled “our blades are f***ing great”, has become an iconic piece of marketing and has racked up more than 27 million views.
Adding humour to your tone of voice is tricky; so many brands try to be fun and friendly but miss the mark. But one personal care company that uses humour really well is Nuddy; creators of vegan, plastic-free shampoos, soaps and skincare products.
Nuddy’s product packaging is light-hearted, filled with clever puns such as “practice what you peach” on the front of its açai berry and peach shampoo bar, and “the best kind of juice cleanse” on its mango moisturising soap.
The brand’s mission is to make soap bars cool again, and Nuddy is already succeeding in its tone of voice.
Creating a product that’s aimed at both adults and children isn’t easy, but Snackzilla has managed to develop a range of snacks and a brand tone that works for both audiences.
While their brand premise is healthier snacking, Snackzilla conveys this message without being pretentious, by making the voice of founder, Marieke Syed, central to its content.
“Kids LOVE biscuits and cookies. Come to think of it, most adults do too,” she says on Snackzilla’s website. “And if your kids are anything like mine then they are CONSTANTLY asking for snacks, and you may too be trying to find less sugary but filling options that will satisfy their sweet tooth.” Instantly, she has connected with a perpetual problem every parent faces without making them feel like they’re somehow failing.
Snackzilla takes this dual child-adult audience approach through to its product packaging, which features bright colours and silly cartoon drawings. Parents are reassured by the 50% less sugar statement on the front of its cookie packets, but kids are too busy reading the question “would you rather kiss a crab or tickle a bear?” or “would you rather have fingers for toes or toes for fingers?”
Men’s grooming is a growth market, with sales set to double by 2031. One brand leading this charge is Bulldog – and it’s setting the tone perfectly with its straightforward approach to male skincare.
The company’s tagline, “man’s best friend” is simple but clever and there’s an elegance to their claim that “whether you have the face of an angel or the skin of a rhino, Bulldog is on your side.”
Bulldog founder, Simon Duffy, has built the brand on the belief that “men are increasingly searching for natural ingredients that have robust data to prove efficacy”, which shines through in their brand packaging. Copy is minimal, functional, but compelling, and focuses on the quality of ingredients and effectiveness of results – with a little flair. For example, the cardboard packaging for its original moisturiser cracker says it’s “the hero moisturiser your face deserves (and definitely needs)”!
What do you get when the growth markets of pet care and plant-based products meet? Omni: a healthy, vegan dog food brand. And this company knows how to balance clarity and fun in its tone of voice.
While its packaging is clean and minimalistic, focusing on a red and white colour scheme and the essential information pet owners want to know (e.g. Omni products are vet approved), there are humorous touches in its wider brand tone. Log onto the Omni website and its reported benefits include wagging tail, shinier coat and fresher breath. It’s endearing to see the voice of the dog come through in a way that isn’t awkward or over-engineered.
7. Frank Body
Frank Body started when five friends decided to launch a company that, in their words, “removed the hyperbole that saturates the skincare industry and made clean skincare fun”. They did this by personifying their brand to create the distinctive Frank Body voice.
What makes Frank Body’s tone so clever is that Frank has a voice but not a face. “I don’t take myself too seriously but I’m serious about the right thing,” says Frank Body’s website. “That’s why over 6 million babes have fallen in love with me.” And this idea of a ‘fun time Frankie’ that you can develop feelings for plays out across its products and content.
Most Frank Body products have a quote on the front of the packaging. From “guess what? You’ll be naked in one minute” on its coffee scrub, to “for babes who like to get dirty” on its charcoal mask and scrub.
And the Australian brand also carries this bold tone into its strategy: Frank Body has announced that it will sever ties with unsustainable retailers as part of its drive to become plastic neutral this year.
A beauty brand that has adopted a completely different – but just as successful – tone of voice to Frank Body is Byredo. Creator of makeup, perfume, home fragrance and candles, its black and white minimalist product packaging is complemented by alluring product descriptions.
All too often, product information is dry and factual or clichéd and hyperbolic. But Byredo’s descriptions make you want to add that item to your basket straight away. Like it’s Bibliotheque candle, which says “sheltered from the passage of time, libraries have the power to teleport us to a world in suspension. The velvety quality of the paper embodied in a touch of peach, plum and vanilla.” Or its Blanche perfume, which “explores the smell of texture and skin; bodies slipping beneath fresh sheets; laundry baskets filled to the brim; a punch of detergent.”
Byredo is a masterclass in both building the right tone for a luxury brand, and maximising the value of short-format content.
9. Field Fare
The beautifully-crafted tagline “chosen, frozen and ready to pick” is an indicator that Field Fare has put extensive work into developing its brand voice.
The ‘scoop your own’ frozen food company started with fruit and vegetables, but has now expanded its product range into frozen pastries, desserts, fish and meal makers (such as pies and burgers). And the golden thread running through everything is Field Fare’s family firm values.
When you read Field Fare’s website, you know you’re talking to people who are passionate about their products and processes. The company also does a great job of bringing words and visuals together. For example, it takes time to explain the scoop-your-own frozen food model without being patronising, adding fun touches such as a speech bubble next to the vegetable graphic, saying ‘scoop me up!’
It’s difficult to build a brand identity when your products have no packaging. But Field Fare shows that this is no excuse; you can still have a clear voice to convey your proposition and values.
Creating a tone of voice that connects with consumers
As the examples we’ve shared here show, brand tone of voice can mean many different things. Funny; friendly; relatable; aspirational; straight-talking. The key is to align your tone with your product and target audience and to roll it out consistently across your product packaging and digital assets.
In a saturated market where millions of brands are competing for consumer spend, being confident and different pays off. Not just to capture people’s initial attention, but to build a brand that customers fall in love with and stay loyal to – buying your products, sharing your content and recommending you to family and friends.
All of this is possible with a great tone of voice. However, that voice needs to work across multiple countries and cultures as brands grow internationally – and it’s not always as simple as a direct translation. Words and phrases that are straightforward in English can be complex to convey in a different language. They may even have negative connotations. Equally, a strong message in a Western market may carry less power among Eastern consumers.
Growing a successful global CPG brand means being flexible with your tone of voice. Retaining your core DNA while making sure marketing, packaging and digital content assets are relevant and appropriate for local markets as part of your product internationalisation strategy.
Hooley Brown helps brands to build compliant product propositions that resonate with global consumers. We support CPG companies throughout the product lifecycle, enabling them to develop, package, launch, market and sell goods in diverse international markets – including content and packaging translation services.
For support with building a brand that stands out from the crowd while easily meeting industry regulations, get in touch with the Hooley Brown team. You can also follow us on LinkedIn for more consumer goods insights.