Brands, please stop trying to be our friend.

You don’t need to be friends with everyone.

A good rule for life and increasingly, a golden one for brands.

'Hey baaabe!'

The rise of DTC and disruptive brands over the last decade or so has signalled a significant shift in brand tone of voice.

Stepping away from the corporate or serious, brand voices got more casual and familiar. Speaking to us the same way we’d speak to people we actually know. Maybe even like.

Thanks to social media, brands are now even in the same place as our friends. 

Liking our pictures. Tweeting us back. Even sending us pizzas. (Please, keep sending the pizzas.)

But once refreshing and disruptive, the over familiarity of some brands is growing a little weary. Same-same. Consumers are increasingly getting tired of brands trying to be their best mate, when really all they’re trying to do is sell sh*t.

That’s fine. Everyone understands the transactional relationship. And more than anyone else, we’re big advocates for making any exchange as memorable or as interesting as it can be.

But let’s be a bit more honest about the brand/customer relationship rather than trying to jump to the wedding invite stage from that very first sign-up email.

People like to like brands. Maybe even admire or idolise the good ones. But they don’t need you to be their friend. They’ve probably got enough of those they’re avoiding texting back already.

It’s hard to hear. After all, no-one likes to lose friends. But it’s for the greater good.

Now we’re not saying ditch the niceties and start insulting your current and potential customers. A loyal community is still key and people’s connection to brands and what they represent can be a key identity builder for both parties. 

But when creating and defining the TOV that will make your brand stand out, resist the urge to jump head first into the friend zone.

Friendly, sure. Best friends? Nah. You’re better than that. And we’re definitely better than that.

Savvy consumers see right through any ‘Hey gurrl!’ cheesy greetings. For Gen Z, a less than perfect execution just comes off as insincere, empty and out of character – particularly when it’s straight back to cold, legal jargon the minute they raise a concern, complaint or call out behaviour they consider more villainous than friendly.

For some brands who really know their target market, the bestie tone works. We’re not against it. But for many brands, it’s the easy option rather than the right one.

The best tone of voice is distinct and consistent. 

Brands can make our lives better or easier. The right tone should make your customers feel good or happy or supported or reassured or connected to what you do. Clever and simple can still cut through.

But true friends aren’t nice to you just to sell stuff.

Leave that to the MLMs.