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Why words matter during a cost of living crisis

We speak to Reed Words about the importance brands should be placing on their tone of voice amid the recession – and why platitudes simply won’t cut it for consumers

There has been marked shift in how brands are engaging with consumers in the wake of the cost of living crisis. As the UK economy slumped into a recession towards the end of last year, we saw Channel 4 partner with big brands to air money-saving ads, while Marcus Rashford and Tom Kerridge ramped up their work on child food poverty campaign Full Time, and even John Lewis opted for a more thoughtful approach to the traditional blockbuster Christmas ad.

While, on the whole, design and advertising are seen to be effective in helping brands navigate challenging times, one of the most valuable tools at their disposal, which has been woefully overlooked in recent years, is the so-called ‘dying art’ of copywriting. “Having one page in your brand guidelines on tone of voice or having principles like ‘human’ and ‘clear’ aren’t particularly helpful in this context,” says Orlaith Wood, creative lead at copywriting agency Reed Words.

“Brands aren’t used to having to talk to people about really serious topics like financial difficulty, and it shows that as a brand you need to invest in this stuff, so that the team that’s doing the writing and the communicating is really equipped to tackle topics that aren’t just about your products or services,” she adds.