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 —
Cutting edge, boundary-busting, out-of-the-box, shocking: Ben can do it all. Ben is the brand voice type that we think of for lifestyle, everyday products *with an edge.* Right now, in the cultural milieu, Ben’s sweet spot is probably with elder millennials: we think of him as the most likable guy from your highschool class. He’s Shawn Spencer from Psych. He's Chandler Bing. He’s a little bit Bart Simpson and a little bit Peter Griffin and a little bit Jim Halpert from The Office.
Likability is key here. Relatable is paramount. Writing like Ben is a LOT harder than it sounds. Basically, you have to charm the pants off people and make it seem effortless. That last part is the hardest. Being funny is probably the hardest thing to do… in the entire world.
If you can master this writing style, you become like a golden unicorn person in the world of bland copywriting. Writing for brands like this gives you a chance to be super colorful, and color a little bit outside of the lines.
We’ll acknowledge outright, some of the brands that have done this voice most successfully definitely have a masculine spin. Not all, but a lot.
Brands that meet this voice/tone style include Corona, Ford, Red Bull, Taco Bell, Best Buy and Monster.
Understanding how fun brands position themselves is key. It seems effortless and off-the-cuff, but these are the kinds of wording and phrasing decisions that marketing departments spend hours crafting. Ben is the king of the one-liner, and here is how his voice can be described:
Ben is a great chance to create communities. His voice rallies people around the, “oh yeah, I know exactly how that feels” kind of copywriting. Of course, this is the litmus test for all successful copywriting, but it’s mission critical for brands like these.
Ben has an effortless charm that actually represents some of the most skilled copywriting/communication chops of all time. Only the best of the best copywriters really do this well, because it has to be utterly unself-conscious, which is no mean feat.
In literature, we think Ben is well represented by Mark Twain.
Here is his quote:
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
Ben is everyone’s favorite comedic actor. He could be the coolest guy around, but opts to be a little bit class clown. In some instances, he’s easily sharp enough to be a skilled satirist. Here’s who we think meets that spec:
Freddie Prinze Jr.
John C. Reilly
Nobody’s afraid of Ben. Nobody’s intimidated by Ben. Ben had a hacky sack on the quad and a ready joke for his dad friends. Ben is up for anything, and good natured every step of the way.
A week of vacation as a kid.
In our wide scale brand analysis, these brands shaped the archetype we call Ben:
Ben is kind of wacky, very funny, he wants what we all want and can help people put words to what they already think and feel.
I can’t overemphasize enough how much copywriters *think* they are good at this… but may not be. You need to be a hardcore student of two things if you’re going to succeed with this brand voice:
In my opinion, brands that want to come across like Ben are not after sales - they want a movement. Ben is easily the most invitation brand type you will encounter, and the idea is to magnetize content, making it irresistible, can’t-not-watch, can’t-not-read, must-have-it-now kind of energy. This means you need to 1000% understand how advertising works and how people respond to it, also learning from the best of the best comedic ad writers in the world. It also means you need to understand how humans behave on a base level, really getting down to why they react and when. It’s not something to dive into lightly, but if you commit some time to it, you could earn your place with some of the best writers of all time.
Write poetry. Write ads. Write phrases. Keep them. Rework them. Write them again. Scratch a word out and swap it with another. A lot of stream of consciousness experimentation is a good start to learning to write funny content.
If you are learning to write in this voice, I recommend you follow this topic on our blog:
Best of luck to you!
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