What Children's Literature Can Teach Copywriters
What can writers learn from children's books? Turns out, a lot.
— WHICH VOICE IS YOUR BRAND? TAKE THE BRAND VOICE QUIZ —
Let's talk about how to write for everyday brands.
Products for that everyday routine, livin’ that best life, hustling hard, momming it up, doing it all/having it all: Mia is the brand voice we’ve identified for everyday brands.
These are brands that sell everyday products, are often household names (or hoping to be) and want to appeal to Joe Plumber and Janine Mom-of-Three. It’s not just a catch-all, it is in fact a very targeted effort to dominate the middle market. Believe it or not, it’s probably the most competitive market to try to win in, which is why mastering the Mia brand voice is really important both for companies and the writers who support them.
Mia is seen in brands like Coca-Cola, Hershey, Dove and Chick-fil-A. The products are not complicated and not expensive, and they're generally something people have to buy (or think they do). Brands that do this best make the “have to” a “want to.”
There is a common denominator situation when it comes to marketing everyday brands or household brands. You’re focused almost exclusively in the B2C market, and here are the words we mined that most aptly describe Mia:
Mia brands are no-nonsense. They’re “we’re all in this together,” and all about pointing out common ground to win business. There is no negotiation: life just *IS* this way, and we know it with absolute certainty. Brands that present this way in the marketplace capably give a problem and solution right next to each other, and do it as fast as possible for their busy do-everything audience.
Connecting Mia to literature is best done contemporaneously. The author we feel best embodies Mia is Toni Morrison, and here is the quote:
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
In other words, words matter. The words you use to communicate with customers of a brand like Mia matter greatly.
Culturally, Mia is everywhere. It’s a very common archetype that is personified by these famous people:
What do all of these people have in common? They’re likable. Very few people object to them. They have mass commercial appeal, a goal shared by brands that want to sound like Mia.
What impression does this archetype or brand voice leave? What general feeling should people have when they see this brand in a store or on the street? Here is the feeling around Mia:
Sitting next to the most interesting person at a dinner party.
Whether that dinner party is fries on a blanket picnic or a four course meal, Mia is the most accessible and entertaining person around. A good time.
In our extensive brand analysis of the world’s top 500 brands (and the language they use), here are the ones most closely aligned with this brand voice:
Mia brands are often - although not always - moderately priced, if not low cost leaders in their product category or industry.
There’s a big risk to underestimate the Mia voice, imagining that somehow it’s basically “how we all talk anyway.” That impression is the result of tireless efforts of masterful marketers over the years. In fact, Mia should be in your head - but only because the voice was put there by suggestive, big-budget marketing for your 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years of life… you get the idea. You’ve been exposed to this type of brand voice perhaps more than any other. But just because you recognize it doesn’t mean you can replicate it.
My overarching recommendation if you want to write for brands like this (and there’s a reason those jobs are hard to get) is to become hyper-observant. Pay attention to the tiniest phrasing and details in marketing. Read tons of ads. Listen to commercials at full volume. Get used to absorbing all types of advertising and marketing to learn the themes and motifs. This will help you separate the everyday/mediocre from the everyday/excellent. React naturally and then dive into WHY an ad or phrase made you chuckle or cringe. This will help you self-edit and become increasingly competent in using the Mia voice as a writer.
It should be clear that writing this way takes a lot of practice. Some of the OG brand writers - I’m talking Dan Kennedy and people like David Ogilvy - crafted a lot of the brands that present like Mia. There’s a little old school sales here, in addition to a lot of modern, relatable ideas that can coalesce into something truly compelling.
If you want to learn to write like Mia, I recommend you follow this topic on our blog:
Have fun with it!
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