What does an ethical brand sound like?

ethical brand copywriting

My new favourite type of client to work with isn’t styled to the nines in Chanel and lambskin leather.

In 2019, she’s slipped into a pair of ultra luxe leggings made from recycled bottles, or nursing a cocktail while sporting some vegan, cruelty-free nail polish.

That’s right – the rise of the ethical fashion brand has seen my client base change dramatically in the past year.

My clients are just as stylish, creative and driven, but this year they care deeply about the planet and how they can create an impact.

But here’s the thing about ethical fashion brands: while the market is flourishing, it’s also still competing with a fast fashion landscape. And while we’re researching organic cotton more than before, fast fashion still has a steady stream of customers who don’t ‘get’ why you’d reincarnate ocean garbage.

So how do you stand out amongst the cheaper brands that entice and persuade with an ultra low price point?

How do you get your dream customer to stop buying 5 cheap tops, and purchase just one of your organic cotton tees for a premium price?

It’s time to create a resonant brand voice that exudes your values, and speaks to your customer’s values too.

 

It’s not just about your customer

As a copywriter, I talk a lot about discovering who your dream customer or client is. If you’re a client of mine, I’ll drill you about where they live, which blogs/Instagram accounts they follow, and which brands currently have their heart and most of their closet space.

But more than that, the key to creating a cut-through brand voice isn’t just cosying up to your dream customer.

It’s a matter of understanding:

 

Your values

Your brand voice archetype

 

Let’s explore these.

 

Your brand values

What does your fashion brand stand for?

It is sustainability? How so?

Is it fair wages for manufacturers? How can you prove this?

Here’s an example of brand attributes that commonly ring true for my ethical clients. Do these sound like you?

 

Transparency

To win the hearts and wallets of your dream customers, you can’t just throw empty sentiments around. If you’re an ethical brand, you need to explain exactly how you’re ethical. Have you personally set foot inside your manufacturing facility and observed fair working conditions? Say so! Do you have accreditation to certify that your products are organic? Put that tick of approval on your website and products! Will it take more than 12 days to refund a customer? Definitely mention this on your website.

 

Community

Brands are no longer defined by their products. They’re about an experience and gathering round likeminded people. Think about it: what comes to mind when you think of Lulu Lemon? For myself, it’s not just leggings – it’s free yoga classes and a run club. 

Creating and organising groups should be central to your brand, as you rally together to create change on a global level. Speak in terms of “we” and “us” to let your audience know they’re a part of something bigger that’s going to have a lasting impact.

 

Premium

Ethical fashion is no longer about hemp sacks and batik patterns. The ethical elite now exude luxury and style, polished off with top-notch quality that rivals the likes of major fashion houses. You want to appeal to the jet-setting style maven, so speak the language of the conscious and sophisticated. Use correct English grammar and punctuation

 

Helpful

Being an ethical brand goes beyond how you make your products and what they’re made of.

An ethical brand wants their customer to feel valued, so being as helpful as possible is a must. An ethical brand treats their customers with respect, and talks to them one-on-one like they would a friend. Don’t “dear sir” or “kind regards” them – use their first name if you can, and respond to all messages in a timely fashion. If you’re a small business, it can be difficult to stay on top of Instagram and Facebook DMs. I highly recommend outsourcing social media and email enquiries to someone who’s responsive, and won’t leave a customer disgruntled on Facebook for over 24 hours.

 

Timeless

Being a slave to fast fashion trends is now looked down upon like a pair of leopard print crocs. That is to say, not very favourably. Your customer wants your products to last the test of time, eschewing rapid-fire trends for long-term alternatives. So if your items are designed to be in her wardrobe for years to come, how do you weave this through in your brand voice? You sway away from in-yer-face language, slang, and opt for quiet confidence instead.

 

Intimacy 

Your customer doesn’t just buy your products because they’re beautiful – they buy how you make them feel. I recently received a handwritten note from Skin Studio in Melbourne, after I’d purchased their earrings on Etsy. What a personalised, finishing touch! I was so pleased with this level of intimacy and effort that I even made an Instagram story about it.

That’s how you speak to your customers as an ethical brand – make them feel wanted, talk to them one-on-one, and create a close feeling of connection with them.

 

Brand Voice Archetype

Did you know that every brand has a personality? During my time as a copywriter, I’ve noticed that most brands are one of five archetypes: THE SAGE, THE MENTOR, THE EVERY GIRL, THE ENTERTAINER AND THE CONQUEROR.

Each archetype uses a particular style, using nuanced language to connect and convert.

Not sure which one you are?

Ethical brands generally fall in to The Conqueror category, or The Every Girl. Don’t know what that means?



 

Don’t forget

How to Create an Authentic Brand Voice is the perfect companion to creating your ethical brand communications. It’s an ebook I created to help you develop a Brand Voice that’s natural, consistent and clearly defined.

 
I'm Camilla Peffer, and I'm a Melbourne copywriter who creates engaging, results-driven content for fashion and lifestyle brands. From website copywriting, to fashion copywriting, content strategies and SEO audits, I've created clicks and conversions for the likes of Sportsgirl, Seed Heritage, CoYo, Ralph Lauren and Politix. Want to work together? Reach out! I'd love to hear about your next project.