Updated: Jun 30, 2021
When I ask clients about brands they like, often they mention Go-To Skin Care - the fun skincare brand from Zoë Foster Blake.
There’s so much to like about the brand - the no-nonsense self-referential tone of voice and the crisp, warm look and feel to match.
The brand has refreshing slogans like, “We care about not pissing off your skin,” and “Why shouldn’t looking after your skin be fun?”.
Zoë Foster Blake, an Australian beauty author and editor, started the brand. Her reputation and professional credentials are the ingredients that make the brand work. Women of a certain age know, like, and trust her. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s married to the charming and handsome comedian Hamish Blake).
The brand story for Go-To Skin Care explains how Zoë wrote a book about skincare. In the course of her career, she discovered that most women find skincare products and their ingredients completely baffling. She saw their point.
This is the Eureka moment in her origin story:
“Zoë agreed. So much of skin care is intimidating, complicated and confusing. She wondered if it could all be a LOT simpler. Less stressful. If it could give people confidence, rather than strip them of it (and their cash.) Holy shit, it could even be FUN!”
It’s not the theory of relativity, but this revelation resonates. Hell yeah, who doesn’t want more confidence, less intimidating marketing, and to have more fun?
What makes this brand work is how the verbal (the tone of voice), the visuals (the look and feel) and the values (the brand promise) hang together. They’re so intertwined you can’t pick them apart.
Let’s look at another example.
Some clients recently introduced me to Good Pair Days, a wine subscription service that’s taking the pretentiousness out of wine.
Once again, it’s the visuals are modern and attractive. The values match the visuals (stripping wine of confusing jargon), and the verbal style holds it together, at least for a while. Their ‘About’ page is friendly and down to earth. But when you dip your toe into their blogs, suddenly there’s much more detail about wine. The language gets more complex. It doesn’t quite hang together. It has lots of great attributes, but it’s not as memorable.
There are some similar themes between Good Pair Days and Go-To Skincare. They both take a product that's often marketed with deliberate complexity and strip it of its pretentiousness. It's a theme that works well, particularly for Aussies.
So how does that apply to your brand?
Being disruptive is one way to position your brand, but it’s not the only way.
Your brand tone of voice has to align with your brand values and positioning. When we create a Tone of Voice guide, values and positioning are part of it.
It's tricky to develop a brand voice when you’re in a start-up phase. Ideally you start with clear differentiation from your competitors, but sometimes it takes a while to work out where you fit in the market.
When you look at other brands and fall in love with them, beware the trap of choosing a brand image that you can’t maintain. Your brand identity has to be sustainable.
It’s no use having bold ‘out there’ visuals if your in-person style is buttoned-up.
Or claiming to be a friendly brand but having terrible customer service.
Your values and your story should run through the company. Everyone who works with you should know what they are. Because, for your story and your values to be sustainable, they should also be true.
All I'm asking for is.. some uncomplicated skin cream, a nicely chosen glass of white and a brand that hangs together perfectly. How about you?