Brand positioning, brand story, tone of voice, key messaging and copy for the website and packaging of a new-to-market chai brand in collaboration with Bloom London.
Indian food is typically stereotyped into the “traditional” and “ethnic” brand archetypes, which is something the founders wanted to avoid. They wanted to challenge the British concept of chai, and on an even bigger scale, our concept of the right cup of tea. Their overarching goal was to make chai a modern product that you’d drink anytime, anywhere, the same way most British people would drink English Breakfast tea. The first challenge we addressed with the branding was setting Tuk Tuk Chai apart as a modern Indian brand in a compelling, energetic way, avoiding cultural stereotypes.
Firstly, I had to tackle the tone of voice and overarching brand story. Tuk Tuk Chai’s co-founders had a international love affair and through that, discovered chai. It was an engaging and authentic way to introduce the story and the range.
To set the product apart from the Starbucks “chai lattes”, we decided to put together a video of chaiwallahs making chai on the streets. My thinking was that this would contextualise the product and show how different it is from the standard British brew.
Finally, many consumers will not be familiar with how to drink real chai – it’s a different drink to British tea. So we created a page to encourage people to try it different ways; hot, cold etc. This gave rise to the strapline: chai it your way.
For the product range, the client created a range of three flavours which loosely correlated to different geographical regions in India – masala chai is predominantly drunk in the North, cardamom chai is a speciality of the South, and ginger chai is drunk across the country. For this reason, we decided to match up each product with an adventure in that region, to give a taste of India without going down the heritage route.
How this helped them
By contextualising the product for a British audience, I helped the founders of Tuk Tuk Chai to communicate about their product in a way that was relatable for the customers they wanted to reach. From educating the audience about the ways they could make it their own, to bringing in a modern love story, Tuk Tuk Chai became a brand that was about more than just tea. It’s about fusion, East meets West and a celebration of multiculturalism. It has a point of view, and that’s what makes them stand out in a big way within the tea industry.
In collaboration with conversation design agency Labworks, and Sage, I helped to develop the tone of voice and chatbot scripts for a new expense bot for small business owners. This bot would help small business owners keep track of daily finances while on the go.
We began development of this bot before it became a marketing must-have, so we were making our own rules when it came to tone and functionality. We needed to create an interface which helped reduce and simplify financial admin efficiently, while remaining enjoyable to interact with. We also be mindful of cultural boundaries and linguistic issues, as Sage wanted to take this across Europe.
After conducting workshops with Sage employees and small business account holders, we developed an initial interface which handled basic interactions and functionality as indicated to us by the SME interviews. We then played around with telling a story that was a parallel to the users’ story, and settled on developing a backstory for a plucky bot called Pegg, setting up its own admin business. It’s taking on the world, one account at a time. The more a user utilises Pegg’s functionality and account integration, the more backstory a user unlocks.
Tone of Voice
Pegg’s tone of voice is plucky, nerdy and friendly. Using natural language parsing in combination with our scripts, we could piece together how early users communicated with Pegg, and begin to match the tone of voice and phrasing accordingly. Combing through early versions of the bot and user responses, we put together a comprehensive list of responses to random user questions, to make them giggle. There are a lot of Star Trek jokes. We’ve used nerdy tropes and gifs to further communicate in a way that feels natural on the internet, and is appropriate to AI communication, i.e. Pegg has no gender, refers to itself as a bot, and is fluent in meme and cat gifs. We’ve had great feedback from users and the team continues to develop the tone.
From a speculative project, we’ve turned Pegg into a Facebook and Skype chat interface used by small business owners across Europe. This has been a big hit for Sage, making a big company a more attractive proposition for tech-savvy entrepreneurs and creative freelancers alike.
Consult on creative strategy and messaging for the website and packaging of a new-to-market nut snack brand.
A quirky start-up selling Japanese-inspired spiced roasted nuts needed support with characterful copy, product naming and creative strategy. In collaboration with Studio More design agency, we set Kinomi on a spicier path.
Kinomi is the brainchild of Japanese-American entrepreneur Hiromi Stone, a brilliant Japanese chef with a knack for creating complex spice blends. She wanted to infuse her brand with her playful personality and a nod to her Japanese heritage, without playing on lazy Orientalist stereotypes.
Starting with Japanese language, we came upon the idea of using Japanese ideophones, the group bank of ‘sound’ words collectively known as giseigo, as the basis for brand product naming. Due to their simple vowel sounds and repetitive nature, they’re easy for English speakers to pronounce and remember. From there, we also leveraged the concept of kodawari, the Japanese term for the mindful pursuit of perfection through craftsmanship, to express the values of her brand.
The Pished Fish
Naming, tone of voice, key messages and copy for the launch website and packaging of a new-to-market brand of alcohol-infused smoked salmon.
The smoked salmon niche is a crowded market, particularly for start up smoked salmon brands aiming to sell to well-heeled Londoners. The owners wanted to stand apart as an ultra-premium product; so when I suggested a Victorian London-inspired concept they were willing to take a risk.
Effusive and enigmatic, the Pished Fish engages customers through tall tales of revelry, madcap experimentation and the finer things in life... all with a devilish twist. With nods to Victorian gothic horror, alchemy and high society, the Pished Fish is positioned as a uniquely quirky brand that distils the soul of Victorian dilettantism into fish form.
The process of curing and smoking each side of salmon is told through the alchemist's diary, to turn a standard 'process' webpage into a more intriguing read, which is explored further through social media content.
Tone of Voice
I took references from gothic horror classic 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', particularly from the tone of 'Lord Henry Wotton', and added a liberal smattering of Wodehousian interjections to create the narrative tone of voice for the brand story across web and marketing collateral.
Each flavour is cured in a unique blend of booze and botanicals, before a final smoke over complementary wood chips. To present this information as simply as possible, we decided to divide each recipe up into its component parts and explain with a very short story, rather than a long product description.
Since the brand relaunch, the Pished Fish have been able to get into desirable stockists including Selfridges, Harrods, Ocado and Waitrose. While the product is fantastic, the buyers have fallen in love with the branding and it has allowed them to have higher quality conversations quicker and with greater ease than their previous branding had allowed.
Consultation on creative strategy and messaging for the brand story and packaging of a new-to-market coffee scrub brand.
An ethical start-up selling organic coffee scrub using beans from London’s best cafes needed a late night revamp of their packaging copy before they went to the printers. After a last minute creative sprint to meet their print deadline, we worked together on hammering out their brand story and key messaging for retail pitches.
Oakam is a high street lender changing what it means to borrow money. In collaboration with Labworks, they commissioned us to refresh the brand tone of voice and key messaging as part of a huge digital rebrand.
They don’t just provide a service, they champion those who have been financially excluded by other banks by providing access to emergency finance and the opportunity to build up a credit rating.
Throughout 2016, Oakam have undergone a digital rebrand and as part of that, they chose to collaborate together to revamp their tone of voice and key messaging across their website and marketing collateral.
Tone of Voice
Together, first we tackled the tone of voice for the brand.
Going from a foundation of “trustworthy, reliable and friendly”, after a couple of brand value proposition and tone of voice workshops, we moved on to the more emotive “empowering, caring and bold.”
From a customer perspective, we really wanted to communicate through every channel that Oakam is far more than a high street lender. Unlike most financial institutitions, Oakam staff are heavily invested in the success of their customers, and develop very strong relationships that last even after the loan has been paid back.
From an investor perspective, we wanted to show that Oakam is a real thought leader in ethical lending practices, ahead of the curve with their use of integrated technology in-store and community-building across the country.
When researching Oakam, one thing immediately jumped out: for the vast majority of first time customers, English is not their first language. This has a huge impact on writing copy for marketing channels.
First, all financial jargon had to be stripped out so that every loan package was simple to understand for someone with an average knowledge of banking and finance.
Second, all copy would have to be simplified and shortened so that it delivered they key bits of information in simple language, while still retaining a spark of personality.
In short, it was a big editing job.
We decided to have slow sliders of micro-copy on the site, to give each ‘sound bite’ room to breathe on the page, with enough time between each slide for non-native English speakers to understand the content.
Mei & Taccalitti
In collaboration with brand consultancy Bold Wise, we created a conceptual brand identity for an Italian shirtmaker, for their future revamp of their online retail offering.
A traditional Italian shirtmaker with a small online retail offering were considering revamping their brand identity including name, design assets and tone of voice, in order to break into the EU and US market. They came to my design partner and I in order to discuss the different brand positions that might work for them, and how an identity could be structured to flex for their future approach.
Below are a trio of concepts that were presented as part of this branding exercise.
Cocomi is an organic Sri Lankan coconut company selling their delicious products in over 12 countries and growing. Working with the Global Marketing Director, I guided Cocomi on their brand story, tone of voice and copywriting across their global marketing collateral.
In a competitive category of health-oriented, often clinical brands, Cocomi is warm, family-run and full of heart. They’re a real agricultural community, supporting traditional organic farming methods which have been used in Sri Lanka for hundreds of years. Together, we revamped their story so that it reflected their family history and focus on conservation, while feeling like a fireside tale. We then took this tale across a trade brochure, now translated into nine languages, and the entire global product range.
After running several brand workshops to explore the history and future direction of Cocomi, it became apparent that what set this brand apart was their family history, place within Sri Lankan agriculture and the community they had created on their farms. We focused the storytelling on Cocomi’s journey into traditional, organic farming, their community and the difference it makes to the final product.
Tone of Voice
Taking inspiration from Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” stories, abundant Sri Lankan joy and the lilt of Sinhalese English, I wrote a warm tale to serve as the basis of communcations moving forward. As a budding organic brand with a century of family history behind it, we wanted the tone to be inviting, warm, and approachable while conveying expertise.
The new brand story has facilitated change within Cocomi, most noticeably in relationships with wholesalers across the world. As a result of sharing the brand story through brochure, packaging, and the provision of marketing materials for consumers, the wholesalers now understand the benefits of the Cocomi range far better. As a result, there’s been a global increase in sales, and Cocomi can now articulate the value they add to their products in a simple, inviting and friendly way.