Why words can make or break brands

We speak to Rae Boocock at content and communications agency Sonder & Tell about the ongoing battle to avoid clichéd language, and why storytelling isn’t just for the marketing team

“Sonder is the realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own,” says Rae Boocock, senior writer at Sonder & Tell, about the genesis of the agency’s name. “In short, everyone has a story,” she explains, and that goes for brands too. Founded in 2018 by Emily Ames and Kate Hamilton, Sonder & Tell’s own communications are a shining example of that, with a carefully curated weekly newsletter called The Word, which seamlessly balances authority and approachability.

Through its work with brand storytelling and tone of voice, the content and communications agency has racked up clients including dating app Bumble, direct-to-consumer paint brand Lick, plant milk brand Rude Health, Dash water, recipe box service Mindful Chef, and many more.

Stories often begin with words and, looking through Sonder & Tell’s case studies, its easy to see how they can go on to inform not just the language used by a brand, but entire communications and branding strategies. But, Boocock explains, the ability to spin a good yarn can help brands in other, less obvious ways too. “Stories aren’t just for the marketing department. Yes, they can speak to customers, but the right story can also rally a brand’s team and inform business decisions,” she says, citing the agency’s work to create an offbeat story and tone for refillable cleaning product brand Homethings: “It didn’t just catch customers’ attention, but helped the team craft pitches to investors too.”

Top and above: Cat food brand KatKin. Branding and visuals by Center