You can argue that creatives have never been more in demand. Without the content they produce, the Internet would kneel over and forlornly perish, with nothing new to read, like, watch or share to sustain its existence. Businesses have realised that they don’t only need to provide a service, in order to make an impact online they also need to entertain. In today’s bright new world, film-makers, artists, illustrators, designers and, of course, writers are needed for their skills to an unprecedented degree.
With a significant amount of writers creating the social media feeds, video scripts and blogs for businesses, the challenge is coming up with engaging branded content. Some of these challenges are universal, but luxury brands can present writers with unique problems to solve.
While very few writing jobs are easy, high-end brands are particularly difficult to write for because the luxury market is so abound with cliches, and words like “sumptuous”, “opulent” and “bespoke” all too easy to overuse. Flowery descriptions of the charms of a particular brand can quickly bore readers, or come off as fawning and breathless, but if you avoid this entirely how are you meant to communicate what makes this brand special? Deciding what is the best way to write for a luxury brand can be a headache, but here’s some tips that will make your work stand out from the crowd.
Define which kind of luxury the brand is aiming for.
Luxury comes in many guises, from that aimed solely at the very wealthy, to products that are considered luxurious but are designed to have mass appeal. How you write will be largely determined by the brand’s values and aims, and it’s important to consider who exactly you’ll be writing for. Imagining the ideal customer and writing as if you are having a direct conversation with them is a great way to start, because it makes you consider how you would interact with them if they were sat right next to you.
Look to businesses similar to the one you are writing for in order to gain some inspiration (or to find out what kind of writing you want to avoid). At the very high-end, you have companies such as property investment fund The Hideaways Club. Their tone is self-assured, warm and quietly sophisticated, with the copy on their website communicating discernment and intelligence without being unfriendly.
On the other hand, London brand Jo Malone is very much a luxury brand, but has broader appeal. They are undoubtedly expensive, but people will buy their products as an occasional treat, even if they can’t afford them on a monthly basis.
Their strategy is to say very little at all, and instead convey their luxury status through sparse but elegant descriptions. Illamasqua make-up are another luxury brand with broad appeal, using slightly spikier and edgier language that stresses their sustainable credentials – appealing to their younger audience. Their main claim to luxury is that they are different to the other cosmetic brands, with unusual colours and active encouragement of creativity. This means they can reach outside of the usual confines of luxury, and be a little more daring.
Despite their very different positions in the market, all these brands have one thing in common – the language is not overwrought or deliberately “posh”. Which brings us to…
Keep it simple.
Writer Gary Bencivenga said that “copywriters who show off their skills are as ineffective as fishermen who reveal the hook.” This is especially true for luxury brands. The temptation may be to reach for the thesaurus and use esoteric words (especially as much of luxury branding is about making the consumer feel sophisticated for their ability to appreciate such things) but it barely ever works.
More likely, the copy will quickly sound forced and overly self-conscious. Keeping things clear, simple and concise doesn’t mean it has to be prosaic or entirely stripped-back, you just have to use certain descriptors with care. While there’s nothing wrong with using words often associated with luxury brands, like (most obviously) “luxurious”, think instead of what makes the product luxurious, and try to describe that. Remember that much of what makes something a luxury is sensory, and try to communicate the experience the product or service will invoke, rather than just a run-down of its features.
Spend plenty of time researching.
Luxury brands have to constantly battle to prove their worth, something that is becoming ever more difficult with an increasingly informed (and at times, cynical) audience. I’m sure we’ve all heard the claims that a £600 designer dress is made in the exact same factory as a £14 one, and people are naturally more demanding of something that has positioned itself as a luxury brand.
While some major brands can get away with simply making themselves expensive and having a famous name to justify the “luxury” tag, most high-end brands need to prove exactly why they are more exclusive. In order to do this you will need to know as much about the business as possible, for example the products, the general history of those products, the materials used to make them, where these materials come from and craftsmanship required to transform them.
If, for instance, you were writing about a luxury spa, take a look into massage oils used and the plants they are scented with. You could then explore the history of massage and the various other treatments, the traditions they are tied to (such as Japanese bath houses and hot springs) and how long the members of staff will have to train to deliver these treatments. Find out more than you can ever hope to actually write about, and your words will subtly convey that other luxury mainstay – expertise.