When you say you’re an Italian fashion company, but you sound like a badly translated menu


Something not right with your brand’s voice?

Here’s how to diagnose it.

Brand language works on 3 levels:

There’s the story you’re always telling, about who you are and what you stand for (your narrative).

Then, there’s the sort of person you sound like when you speak and write (your tone of voice).

Finally, there’s the small (but still important) stuff, like the individual words and phrases that are particular to your brand, the way you use punctuation, or even whether you tend to use longer or shorter sentences.

When your brand’s voice is coherent across all 3, you amplify your brand’s positioning.

When it’s not coherent, it’s jarring.

Take Replay jeans, for example.

Here’s their brand narrative, which I’ve deduced from their website:

“We’re an Italian company with beautiful headquarters in Asolo, a hilltop town in Northern Italy.

We make jeans.

In fact, we love making jeans. We don’t want to make haute couture, and we don’t want to make cheap clothing. We just want to make great jeans with ‘characteristic Italian design’ and ‘superb quality’. We’re experts at this, and we invest heavily in R&D around materials and styles.”

So, if that’s their narrative, what’s their tone of voice? Is it consistent with this? You might expect them to sound particular, almost obsessive about detail. Like experts. Perhaps with a dash of Florentine flair. Perhaps slightly geeky.

But, as you can see in the label above, they don’t sound like that at all.

In fact, they sound like a badly translated menu at a restaurant. The sort of restaurant you might find in a beautiful town, but at the most convenient, most touristy part. The sort that serves mediocre, overpriced food. Just because they can.

Those associations – convenience above quality, a lack of consideration for customers – don’t fit the narrative. They undermine it.

This dissonance between the narrative and the tone has a knock-on effect in the individual words and phrases they use. Their vocabulary is erratic:

‘…has been presented’ is archaic – a construction an old-school sommelier might use.

Imperative verbs like ‘dry flat’, ‘do not hang and do not iron‘ are what you might expect from a personal trainer.

And don’t get me started on ‘wish maintain’.

And why should Replay care about this?

Language frames your customer’s perception of your brand and your product.

And tourist restaurants don’t get repeat customers.

If you’d like to have a chat about how your brand’s voice can amplify your brand’s positioning, or you’re interested in a more technical analysis of what’s going on in your writing, then email us.