I looked at what makes innocent’s, Apple’s and MailChimp’s brand voices so effective in a blog a while ago.
Well, I’ve come across another one.
A client told me about ‘Cards Against Humanity’ at her Christmas do and as we have a similar sense of humour I thought I’d find out more about it, so I went onto their website.
Their copy won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s the point, your brand doesn’t need to appeal to everyone, it needs to appeal to your target market – and reflect your brand values – and Cards Against Humanity does that very very well.
It’s sold as “A party game for horrible people” that’s “as despicable and awkward as you and your friends”. Those two lines reflect the tone of the game perfectly so you can see immediately whether it’s going to be for you or not.
It’s a really simple game. One player shows a card with a statement on it, like “White people like ____________”, “They said we were crazy. They said we couldn’t put __________ inside of _____________. They were wrong.”, or “And I would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for ____________”.
Then the other players present their cards to complete the statement in the funniest way. As you can imagine, body parts and lots of activities you wouldn’t normally mention in polite company are mentioned quite a lot.
If that sounds like hell to you, that’s OK, you’ll be put off by the copy on the site well before you get close to buying the game – but if that sounds like your kind of fun, you’ll be entering your debit card details and upsetting your relies before you know it.
So, how is their tone different?
It doesn’t mess about being nice, sweet-talking readers. Rather than the bland “Frequently asked questions” most of us use on our websites, they have “Your dumb questions”.
Instead of “Here are the rules folks”, you get “Here are the fucking rules”. If you’re offended by the f-word you’d hate the game so anyone who’d rather stick forks in their eyes is filtered out.
The writers use humour too which is another brave move as not everyone will get it but it’s better to appeal to a few people than be wishy-washy and not really speak to anyone. One of the questions on their website is, “If I email you, will I get a different answer to these questions?”
And their answer? “No. We’ll probably send you a polite response, but we’ll also laugh at you and say, “Didn’t they read the FAQs?”
They don’t mind a bit of culture-bashing either and again I find it funny rather than offensive. If you ask “What’s up with the UK edition?” the response you’ll get is:
“For the UK edition of Cards Against Humanity, we’ve rewritten about 15% of the game to adapt it to an outmoded culture. We were too fat and American to adapt the expansions, but you can still buy them at our store”.
I’m not suggesting that you emulate them, this sort of tone isn’t right for 99% of companies but it is an example of a brand getting it right, being brave and original. The TOV matches the game perfectly, it’s really smart. Here’s their website if you want to check it out for yourself.
And if you played Cards Against Humanity over Christmas please let me know if you enjoyed it, I haven’t played it yet.