Lovenote was born from my passion for one thing: creative brand-building copywriting in each brand’s distinct tone of voice.
When I first fell into the world of copywriting, I discovered one of my main skills lied in being able to slip between tones of voice. No matter how differently two brands spoke to their audience, I could absorb it and create content in the same way. I would analyse their vocabulary, sentence structure and word flow, then replicate it to create on-brand content across platforms — each piece infused with my fresh perspective.
This passion has evolved into the development of that tone of voice strategy I adore, then slipping into voices and dictionaries I’ve defined. Through each project, I’ve been refining my copywriting process along the way. If you’ve ever wondered what the desk side of the copywriting studio looks like (sometimes messy, often stressful, generally successful), take a look into my creative copywriting process below.
Phase one: Brand deep dive
The first step in any project is to throw myself into the brand’s driver’s seat. The goal is to become so overwhelmingly involved and emotionally attached to the business that copywriting becomes high-stakes. The idea is to become just as invested in the results as the brand owner or marketing manager would be.
I want to feel everything the brand is and wants to be. I am here to embody their mission, vision, values and brand strategy across every piece, so I need to be deeply involved. This research phase helps the words flow faster and ensures I nail the vision and goals — the same way the in-house team would.
There are a few ways I do this:
1. The Brand Brief.
This holy-grail document is sent out to every new client, and it’s designed to set us up for success through every future project together. It gathers key information about the business and its products and services — and the meaning behind the brand, its vision and values, and how/why it became what it is today. We talk audience and competitors, I prompt them to provide the ideas already swirling around their mind, and I ask to receive deeper strategy documents like brand guidelines (if they exist).
If you’re a copywriter or brand strategist, the success of your project is only as good as your initial brand brief… honestly. I’m constantly tweaking and refining my brief to prompt clients to give me everything I need to know, because, oftentimes, they have a lot in mind that they aren’t even sure they should share. But it’s essential to do your own deep-dive too.
2. Brand research.
In this step, I fully immerse myself into the brand. I put myself in the shoes of the brand founder, pouring over all the content they’ve developed, strategies they’ve used in the past, and vision for where they want to go.
I’m quite thorough as I read website copy, catch up on their socials, read blogs and emails, and aim to deeply understand each product and service. This is an essential step of the process — without it, even the best copy can feel a bit off-brand. The deeper your initial understanding, the better the results will be.
3. Audience and competitor analysis.
If the client receives a tone of voice package, this step will be formalised into a strategic analysis document. If not — if I’m slipping into the existing tone of voice, or messaging I’ve defined prior — this step still occurs, even if only in jot-note form. I take a peek into close competitors’ messaging to ensure nothing is duplicated or closely replicated, and I dive into how the audience speaks about and receives the products.
Spots like review sections (whether it be the brand’s own products or a close competitor) are a goldmine for understanding the customer. Often, I’ll also dive into a social media community to pick up on language they use and considerations they care about.
I used this strategy when I wrote website copy for The Sausage Club, a dachshund-only brand for pet parents obsessed with their breed. As I scrolled socials and ended up on sausage-Tok, I discovered how true that is: owners are entirely obsessed with their chosen breed. Believe it or not, there are events in Melbourne meant to set a record for most sausage dogs in one place. It’s a bit nuts, and I love it — I had to capture that obsession in the copy. With that in mind, I kept scrolling until I had complied a list of how these pet parents refer to their dogs, plus the quirks and behaviour the pups have in common. We ended up with results like:
Phase two: Tone of voice dump
Next, all this research comes side-by-side with a completely blank page. The blank page can be an intimidating place to start, so I break the ice with a low-pressure tone of voice dump, where all my initial ideas are thrown onto the page.
As I read and re-read the brand brief and documents, I write down all the words, ideas and phrases that come to mind for the project — without deleting or revising what doesn’t quite fit. It’s messy and creative, and it’s the perfect start.
This judgment-free idea zone is where a lot of the creative copywriting actually happens. Without pressure to get the words right, my best ideas come to the surface, the right phrases just click, and I have a go-to document to pull headlines and phrases from as I go.
As this messy document takes shape, the foundations of the project begin to jump off the page. Typically, this step naturally turns into the real copywriting step, as the words flow and I fall deep into the creation of the brand’s next lovenote. Take a peek into two of these messy documents if you dare:
Phase three: Creative, strategic copywriting
Step three is a massive topic on its own — it’s where every principle of creative, compelling, strategic copywriting comes to life. I begin every project with a template, split up by website page, blog topic or caption set. I begin to pull bits and pieces from my notes into the project; I tweak and refine as I go. I aim to let the words flow freely, rather than aiming for perfection in the first try. I surround myself with brand imagery and vision boards to set my frame of mind.
While the art of effective copywriting is too vast to fit on a single page, here’s one way we can break it down. I balance many aspects as I write:
- The goals of the copy (of course). Keeping the intent of the project in mind — what is the main goal? What does the client want?
- The brand tone of voice. Every word must be carefully chosen, and sentence structure and phrasing must fit in flawlessly with all other content. Consistency is key for building a memorable brand; you’d never want an outsourced project to stand out for its lack of cohesion (we’ll make it stand out for positive reasons, instead).
- Creative phrasing. We don’t want the project to be easily duplicated or a repeat of another. Creativity is an essential element, especially when it comes to holding customers’ attention.
- Speaking the customer’s language. Using “you” and “your” statements more often than “us” and “we”. Taking notes from how they speak about the product or service category, and implementing these phrases into the copy while staying on brand.
- The call to action. What is the one thing the customer should do after reading/viewing this piece? This should be distinct and defined through the project.
Phase four: Revising and refining
I have a bit of a perfectionist streak, and phase four often takes me longer than it should. This is where every piece of copy is refined, ensuring strategy is infused into every piece and the brand’s tone of voice is consistently hit.
When you’re staring at the same page for hours on end, sometimes the words begin to blur, and you can no longer read your own words properly. Here’s how I enhance my revisions process:
- I change the document font to see it with fresh eyes. It’s incredible how this makes obvious things pop from the page.
- I read certain sections out loud to ensure they’re written in a conversational tone. You want the copy to flow and be easily read.
- I bring the copy from Pages (my favourite program, and where I spend 99 percent of my life), into Google Docs as a final grammar proof.
- I compare my results with the initial brand brief to make sure I haven’t lost sight of any important objectives or overall vision as I go.
Phase five: SEO keyword implementation
This may sound counterintuitive, but I add SEO keywords through the copy after it’s been written and refined. I wholeheartedly believe — and Google tends to agree — that copy should be written for real people first, rather than SEO results. I write with the brand’s tone of voice in mind, nailing sales copywriting and strategic messaging, before going back to infuse search engine-friendly keywords.
Why this way? Writing around designated SEO keywords often becomes clunky and unnatural. It stands out from the page, it’s obvious, and it doesn’t always do the trick. That’s why I do it in the way that many would consider backwards — but the sleek, on-brand results speak for themselves. For more about how I keep SEO keywords on brand, see How To Stay On Brand With SEO Copywriting.
Phase six: Brand review and revisions
After a final look, the project lands in my client’s inbox, ready to be opened and poured over by the founder or marketing manager who initialised the project. Generally, I invite them for feedback on two rounds of revisions. I ask the client to highlight bits and pieces they love, along with anything they’d like to see changed. The result becomes a collaborative effort between brand and copywriter, with multiple sets of eyes ensuring the piece is perfect.
Phase seven: On to the next one
Lovenote is built for long term relationships. I get attached to the brand’s tone of voice; I want to continue to embody it across mediums and forms. Many of my clients are the long-term type, whether on a retainer or ad-hoc basis. When I complete a writing project for a client, this is the first thing I tell them: Lovenote is now a tool in your back pocket, and we’re here to write copy and content whenever you need.
It’s my passion, my business and my living, and I’d love to get eyes on your brand. Because the noise is loud and competition is fierce. The key to stand out? Strategic words and creative copywriting, showing off what makes you special — in words the dream customer understands.
If you’re intrigued by Lovenote writing for your business, step one is to grab our rate card — then reach out to talk all things your brand.