Branding pros share how they nail brand voice

When you're focused on the design side of things it can be easy to forget just how important good copywriting can be to a finished product – if it doesn't hit the mark then it could quite easily ruin the entire package.

jkr knows the importance of coming up with words to match the quality of the pictures. Here Chris Sharpe, head of brand voice, and design director Brett Sabler discuss the designer-copywriter relationship, and explain how to craft great copy.

You can find the rest of our video interviews with the jkr team here. But before you go, here's some more great advice from Chris and Brett, as they share their three top tips for mastering brand voice.

01. Bounce ideas around

Chris Sharpe often articulates the initial idea to inspire the design team, but it's a two-way thing. "It's nice to have a bit of table tennis back and forth," he says. Both Sharpe and Brett Stabler agree that ideas can, and should, come from anywhere.

"It's just words and pictures at the end of the day," grins Stabler. "It's a 50/50 relationship, and when you work those things in parallel, the end result is much better for it."

02. Know your limits

Finding the correct approach to copywriting depends on the context. "I may be best placed to do it – I can be a chameleon – but sometimes someone with experience in the sector will be a step ahead," reasons Sharpe. 

Stabler sees similarities in design: "Any designer can have a go at something, but it may get to a point where, for example, a calligrapher would be better because they're a real craftsman rather than a jack of all trades," he adds. "Part of design direction is knowing where your limitations are, and when you need to find a specialist."

03. Make every word count

"Words are very important to any brand," believes Sharpe. "The back of a pack could make you fall in love with a brand. It might seem like a small thing, but it lifts the whole thing." He gives the analogy of giving someone a gift: "It might be wrapped perfectly, but it's the little card that tells you who it's from that lifts it that notch further, and we like to surprise and delight in that sense." 

Stabler gives jkr's work for PG Tips as an example: "On the box, it says '80 lovely cups of tea' rather than a cutout robot telling you that there are '80x teabags'. That human touch often comes through the words more easily than the visuals," he says.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 266; buy it here!

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Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.