Although the process of copywriting remains unchanged over the decades, we continue to notice how broader societal trends significantly influence writing style.
In fact, the communications landscape is in continual evolution, influenced by factors such as changes in consumer behaviour, workplace trends and the way communities interact and evolve, as seen in the rapid changes towards communications during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. These shifting attitudes and priorities trickle down and influence the way that brands and whole organisations communicate. And as copywriters, tasked with being the voice of a brand or an organisation, we notice these subtle shifts too.
Below we outline some of the four factors influencing communications at the moment – a trend for pared-down words, authenticity, storytelling, diversity and visual appeal.
A rapidly changing world
As a startling example of how eternal global factors can trickly down and influence the tone of communications, trends group, Glocalities noticed that communications styles really shifted after the COVID-19 pandemic. They reported on five distinct trends:
- A trend towards “back to basics”, with consumers moving away from frivolities and indulgences;
- A trend towards a “small world” view, with decreased trust in international organisations, with a knock-on effect that emphasised facts and truth-telling in communications;
- A trend towards “truthfulness”, with consumers demanding the truth from news and organisations, resulting in franker communications style;
- A trend towards the “here and now”, with a focus on instant gratification over long-term goals; and
- A trend towards “community spirit” reflected in both brands and people placing more importance on purpose and contributing to the world.
It is clear that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global shift towards simplicity, transparency, and trust has become evident. Similarly, the rise of AI and the continued surge in geopolitical uncertainties continues to underscore a need for authenticity and personal connection in all forms of communication.
In tandem, the growing prominence of social justice and equality movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, alongside increased advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), signals a broader societal push for equality and social justice. These societal shifts continue to fuel four key communications trends: authenticity, storytelling, equality, and a straightforward, plain talking style. These trends reflect our collective drive towards fairness and inclusivity, resonating with a need to champion equality and reject discrimination and foster accessible communications that can be accessed by - and speak to - everyone.
Trend #1 - A preference for straight-talking
At Bwritr, we continue to see a clear preference among our clients for simpler, more direct communication. There's a distinct move away from corporate jargon and excessive use of acronyms towards clear, easy-to-understand messaging. This trend isn't confined to one industry; even our luxury clients are embracing a plainer style of expression, perhaps mirroring the shift towards understated elegance in luxury goods. This transition towards what's been termed "quiet luxury" is evident not just on the catwalks but also in the luxury brands’ column inches. Rankin, a UK-based digital agency, discussed this phenomenon last year in an article “What does the ‘quiet luxury’ movement mean for how brands communicate?”
Trend #2 -Embracing authenticity
The trend of embracing authenticity has gained significant momentum in recent years, and its relevance continues to grow. According to a recent IPSOS poll, “authenticity is king” and is the reigning principle in brand communication, with audiences showing a strong preference for genuine narratives and authentic brand experiences. For copywriters, this underscores the importance of crafting stories that deeply resonate with their target audience, fostering emotional connections and nurturing brand loyalty. Authenticity serves as the cornerstone of trust, forming the bedrock of enduring relationships between brands and consumers.
What does being authentic actually look like for a product or a brand? It’s all about a commitment to honesty and transparency. According to IPSOS, authenticity is a fusion of various elements such as “localness, naturalness, heritage, trust, empathy, consistency, and purpose” all while ensuring that goods and products are offered at fair prices.
Crucially, modern consumers can spot fakery and insincerity in brand communication, a mile off. Today’s consumers, whether purchasing goods or shopping for a new employer, expect brands not only to voice support for meaningful issues but also to take tangible actions, whether through financial support, events, or endorsing the right spokespeople. The authenticity of a brand's stance on issues is paramount, with customers valuing genuine alignment with their values over superficial gestures.
- Download the IPSOS Global Trends Report 2023
Trend #3 - Continue to find the story in your brand
Incorporating storytelling or “narratives” into communications continues to be a powerful way for brands and organisations to deeply connect with their target audience. According to LinkedIn, the notion of brand storytelling can be traced back to 2012, as they highlighted their own data. And, according to a study by the University of West Alabama, entitled “Storytelling in Marketing: The Importance of the Brand Narrative," it was an advertisement by Chipotle that broke the mould, with "Back to the Start", a poignant story about a farmer rejecting industrial methods and returning to traditional farming practices, earning the brand accolades at the Cannes Film Festival.
Over a decade later, brand storytelling still remains a cornerstone of effective communication. A well-crafted narrative has the ability to captivate attention, evoke emotions, and differentiate a brand from its competitors. It is the role of the copywriter to unearth the story within each company or organisation, whether by weaving anecdotes that highlight product solutions or showcasing customer success stories to build trust and credibility.
Trend #4 - Embracing inclusivity
As leadership and workplace dynamics evolve, the importance of ensuring accessibility and inclusivity for diverse audiences has come to the fore. Copywriters play a pivotal role as advocates for inclusive language, prompting brand owners and companies to actively address and eliminate non-inclusive language and statistics from their communications.
In our capacity as guardians of content, we are attuned to identifying images that may perpetuate biases and can recommend more inclusive photographs or images. We can also advocate for gender-neutral terminology such as "chairperson" instead of "chairman". We can also work in small ways to help eliminate blanket statements, such as “Everyone should submit his report by Friday” to “Everyone should submit their report by Friday” and play our part in fostering an environment of inclusivity and diversity.
Copywriting continues to evolve, and we continue to see a shift towards authenticity, inclusivity and narrative-driven communication. As brands navigate these trends, the imperative lies in crafting compelling stories, embracing inclusivity, and fostering genuine connections with audiences.
How will your brand leverage these evolving dynamics to resonate authentically with its audience? Start by incorporating inclusive language, fostering narrative-driven content, and championing authenticity in your brand's communication strategy today.