“So, what exactly do you do again?”
“I’m a copywriter at a tech company. I’m on the brand team.”
“Oh! So, like…you write…copy….like…about…tech and…stuff?”
The question is inevitable — at parties, family gatherings, and even on dates. I answer it as best as I can, but the truth is that sometimes it’s just easier to let people pretend to know what it is that I do for a living rather than saying something like,
“Well, I write in our brand voice about the technology and products we offer. Our brand is quirky and funny and confident and humble — we actually made up a word for it called ‘humblident’ — I call that a ‘wombo’ which is ‘word’ and ‘combo’ in one word get it haha but yeah also we’re a tech company which is weird to most people because normally tech companies use a bunch of weird jargon that normal people don’t want to bother reading because it’s so boring so I kind of take boring words and make them fun but also professional and still businessy haha yes I am aware that’s not a word but I would probably use it in an ad I actually think I already may have haha wow so crazy huh but anyway haha uh where are you from again?”
To be honest, that about sums it up. (Note: welcome to me being super awkward on a date.) However, since this is a blog post about writing for the Zendesk brand, I’ll attempt to more eloquently explain what a brand voice is, what it actually means to write in the “brand voice” and why it’s so important to any brand in general. (Note: this is written in *my* voice, so like, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not on the clock.)
Let’s start with a quick Q & A of Q’s that you may or may not be wanting an A to (note: too late, dude, you’re already reading):
Are you in marketing?
A thousand times no. Here’s the down and dirty difference:
Marketing tells the world what our products do. The brand explains why we make them in the first place. Also, the brand team at Zendesk is under the creative department. We’re way weirder than marketing, trust me.
What do you mean by “brand voice?”
Thanks for asking, you gorgeous hypothetical human. When we say “brand voice,” we’re referring to the way that we (or any company) speak to our customers (and sometimes even employees). This can be anything and everything relating to language, from the way we use puns, idioms, and other linguistic tools to non-descriptive headlines, to the specific grammar rules we follow. (For instance, we don’t use exclamation marks. Like, ever. And we never use periods in headlines. Unless a headline is two sentences, which is rare. And we’re okay with starting sentences with ‘and’ if it acts as a way to speak like a human.) Oh, speaking of, that’s another big one:
Our brand voice is meant to be conversational and human. Because our customers and employees are exactly that: human.
Except for Answer Bot. Answer Bot is clearly a bot. But can you imagine if humans had the same name sequence? That would make me Lauren Human. Or maybe Pickle Human, since I’m always eating pickles? Providing pickles? Disregard this paragraph. Anyway…
Okay…so what exactly is the Zendesk brand voice?
Seriously, you’re making me blush. These are such great questions. The Zendesk brand itself has four main attributes — it’s how we speak, both visually and in a written way. We are:
We use warmth and personality to make people feel welcome, and humor to make them feel comfortable when they’re in our world. (The jokes are on purpose, whether you think they’re funny or not.) The point is, we want customers to know we’re on their side. There’s no hustle involved, just a genuine desire to put people at ease and make them feel good about using the things we make. We have a lot of fun with this, as you can see below.
We strive to create experiences and talk about ourselves in a straightforward, simple way. We’re subtle, yet refined — like avocado toast, if it weren’t eight dollars. We’re not saying we don’t like shiny, pretty things, (glitter avocado toast, anyone?) we’re just saying that making them isn’t our goal. We want to provide experiences in the clearest possible form, with no extra work between use and understanding. Just look at this work mark for our Support product — it’s just two boxes singing Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me”.
Remember the ‘wombo’ thing I mentioned in that run-on sentence at the beginning? This is that wombo, baby. We are humble yet confident, but never pretentious or boastful. We work hard to make cool stuff, and most of the time we do a pretty good job. We’ve been around long enough to know what we’re talking about, but we don’t force it. We give customers room to make their own decisions and share their voices, instead of building an echo chamber for our own opinions. No one likes an attention-seeking customer service and engagement platform — but we still like to have a little fun.
Plain and simple, we tell it like it is. Leave the sugarcoating to some other company, because we know not everything is pretty in the world of customer service. We keep things real so people trust that we’re in touch with reality, not software fantasy.
Alright, this is a longer conversation than intended, but why does a “brand voice” matter?
It’s almost over. And then you can go back to the party. A brand voice is super important to a brand because it’s the way that a company chooses to talk to their customers — it’s also the way that customers perceive a brand. And when it comes to talking to customers, AKA people, we all tend to remember things that create some sort of emotional connection. This is important because It’s how brands become known. It’s how Super Bowl commercials make you feel like crying. Or laughing. Or yelling, “HUMP DAAAAAY!” every Wednesday afternoon at your coworkers because of that one time a camel selling car insurance did it on TV. It’s how people learn to love your brand, become loyal to your brand, and buy your brand’s products. To put it simply,
The way a brand conveys their message is what gets people to buy their products.
And the way the Zendesk brand chooses to talk to our customers is…well, those four words right up there. 👆
Oh yeah. Sometimes we use emojis, too. 🤓 💻 🍻
Ok. I know what you’re thinking. This is a lot to take in. But it’s a big deal to all of us who work on the team, so I really wanted to make sure you got it. Now that we got all of that out of the way though, I guess the answer to your original question could technically be…
“Yes, I write copy about tech and stuff.”
What can I say? I’m really fun at parties.
Started from the top, now you’re here. Check out design.zendesk.com for more thought leadership, design process, and other creative musings.