Since Innocent popularised the informal tone of voice, many brands have followed suit by trying to make friends with the customer (as well as sell them a product).
But lately, I’ve noticed a shift away from this conversational style of copywriting.
With an increasing desire from consumers to know how and where products are made, small and artisan brands are growing in popularity.
As a result, reassuringly authentic copywriting is popping up all over the place.
So why do we want to buy beer from micro-breweries, get our caffeine fix from pop-up coffee shops, and source sourdough from independent bakeries?
Perhaps it’s the reassuring nature of the old butcher, baker and candlestick maker – a place where you can go for a chat as well as a quick shop.
Or, maybe we just believe that it’s worth spending a little extra on something premium or independently produced.
Either way, copy that was once quirky and witty is now thoughtful and earnest.
Look at Teapigs for example – a company that has six pages of its website dedicated to telling you how high quality its product is.
With its slightly unconventional packaging, Orchard Pigs is also still slightly ‘Innocent-esque’ – but by detailing its ‘expertly crafted’ cider that’s rooted in ‘fine Somerset tradition’, it can’t help but big up its humble beginnings.
Likewise, Primrose’s Kitchen has a name that directly reflects the artisanal nature of the product.
Its muesli, made in the heart of Dorset, is a world away from the mass-produced, sugar-saturated world of Nestle.
Of course, it’s not only lesser-known brands that are capitalising on this image.
Larger corporate companies are now deliberately trying to appear smaller in order to get a slice of the action.
Have you popped into Harris + Hoole lately?
With its dedicated baristas and laid-back atmosphere, it markets itself as the ultimate independent coffee shop.
A company that literally ‘pours hours of training’ into bringing you the ultimate cup of coffee. You’d never guess it was owned by Tesco.
Costa Coffee is also well-known for using these tactics.
With 1,500 stores in the UK alone, it is one of the biggest and most recognisable brands on the high street. Yet, it still tries to convince us that every single one of its employees was born to serve skinny lattes.
Coffee is an art, and our baristas are artisans – learn about the passion and precision that goes into each cup.
Nice to hear, but if you’ve ever queued for a coffee at 8:50am on a Monday morning you’ll know that staying calm and not spilling anything is the main priority for staff.
A brand that has mass-market appeal, Walkers Crisps is another culprit.
Usually synonymous with famous footballers and big advertising campaigns, it’s been trying a different tack of late.
With a focus on real ingredients (as opposed to fake ones, I suppose), Market Deli crisps is an attempt to target a more discerning consumer.
Promoting itself as “inspired by authentic produce found in delicatessens across the UK”, it is a somewhat strange concept.
Could the fact that the product is inspired by authentic produce mean just that?
Inspired, but not actually authentic in itself?
The danger of the artisanal tone of voice trend is that it will result in false advertising. And sadly, there have already been examples.
Tesco was recently called-out for using fictional farm names on the packaging of fresh produce.
Though the supermarket chain has since explained that the likes of ‘Boswell Farm’ are simply brand names, and in no way meant to suggest the place where the meat was actually sourced, it certainly doesn’t instil confidence in the consumer.
Rather, it just goes to show how the lines between artisan brands and artisanal branding are becoming well and truly blurred.
When it comes to trust, at least you know what you’re getting with a classic bag of cheese and onion Walkers.
For more on this topic, book yourself onto Econsultancy’s Online Copywriting Course or check out these posts: