We’re under no illusion that everyone enjoys cleaning as much as we do. That’s part of the beauty and challenge of what we do at Method. Cleaning isn’t inherently sexy. It’s a necessary evil. But our mission has always been to take the evil out of it. With our planet-friendly formulas and beautifully designed packaging, we make soap that inspires people to fight dirty-in every sense of the word. And we connect with them through our distinctly human, if a bit quirky, brand voice.
We’re not saying that everyone should do what we do. Every brand is different. Your voice should reflect that. Think of the most beloved brands you know. They don’t all sound the same, but they communicate with authenticity, with a voice that aligns with their mission and values. It’s how we make meaningful connections with our community of nearly 35,000 passionate advocates-better known as people against dirty-and it’s a lesson that can be applied to any brand.
Breathing Life into the Voice of Our BrandOur voice is our personality. Playing with words, dispensing delightful quips and telling short stories are just some of the ways we convey it. We describe it as being in a conversation with a funny friend-if your friend only talked about cleaning products. It’s thought provoking and irreverent, rarely sending you off without a wink.
These qualities are consistent across all of our touchpoints. The same informal tone and quirky humor can be found on our packaging, website, advertising and marketing communications. Even in our consumer response and social media messaging, we communicate in the same way. That doesn’t mean we have boilerplates or formulas for developing our voice. We can define what it is: witty, without airs, chatty. And what it is not: crass, highfalutin, preachy. Putting stakes in the ground like this is a great exercise in defining your brand. You can then think of each new product or marketing message within these parameters and let it speak for itself.
The optimism that the design, colors and fragrances of our products express matches the tone of our voice. It’s not an accident that our vibrant colors and innovative design are reflected back in the effervescence of our language and vice versa. This harmony is essential to developing a strong voiceand cultivating a real love for your brand.
The Importance of Being EarnestIt’s impossible to be authentic if you’re trying to be everything to everyone or changing course with every market trend, and I think this is where many brands go wrong. Of course brands evolve over time, but if they’re clearly defined from the start, the evolution is gradual and natural. Our lightheartedness and cheeky asides work because that’s who Method is and who we’ve been since our humble beginnings.
Our Bottles Have Something to SayIt’s especially important for our voice to shine through on our packaging because it’s the core of our business. It’s also important because many of our customers never encounter any other elements of our brand. So, if on-shelf is the only opportunity we have to connect with someone, it better be good. Unfortunately, the place where we need to make the biggest impact is typically where we have the least amount of space. Working with designers and production artists, you quickly learn that a copy request for packaging often means, “Give me the funniest thing you can come up with in less than 25 characters.” I’m sure every copywriter in the world has faced a similar challenge.
We can’t tell the whole Method story on a bottle of all-purpose spray and that’s okay. It’s more valuable to communicate what differentiates us--like 100 percent post-consumer-recycled,recyclable packaging and naturally derived ingredients--in a way that only we can. That might include a pithy speech bubble from a woodchuck or a tangent about the appropriateness of streaking. Ultimately, if a bottle of glass cleaner makes you smile, then we’ve done our job.
Finding Our Voice in Other LanguagesAs Method expands into other markets, we have to consider how to negotiate cultures that may perceive our voice differently. We currently work with a French translator because many of our products are already in French-speaking markets. On numerous occasions we’ve heard back from them “that doesn’t translate.” Like, the word ‘carolers.’ It turns out that the French are without the tradition of serenading their neighbors in holiday song. So noting that our holiday dish soap should not be used to ward them off would have been lost on this audience. We eventually settled on something like “not for use on your reindeer.” We were able to preserve our voice and still effectively communicate with our French-speaking customers. It was a good reminder that our brand doesn’t exist in vacuum.
As a copywriter, challenges like this are a part of the fun. Even communicating in the UK requires an understanding of the cultural nuances of the English language. Our team in London certainly helps to bridge the gap. For example, they advise on modifications to our packaging copy to better articulate our message to the British market, something that would be nearly impossible for us Americans to get right. It’s important to develop variations of our voice to deepen our connections in new markets. As our brand continues to grow, I imagine we may find we’ll need to expand our communications team as well.
I only hope the rest of the world is as fond of puns as we are.
Alexis is the copywriter at Method, where it is her responsibility to come up with a steady stream ofamusing narratives about cleaners. She has a master’s degree in social-organizational psychology that gets very little use.