Small yet mighty

Microcopy is the knockout punch for brand loyalty

Last week, I was hanging out the laundry. No, seriously, stay with me. Hanging out my husband’s undies, I got a jolt of delight. No, I wasn’t having raunchy daytime thoughts. Rather, I caught a glimpse of this cheeky little phrase on the inside of his new StepOne undies – “Turning inside out does not count as a wash!” Gold!

This got me thinking about the power of microcopy and how it’s those little details that can make a powerful difference to the customer experience and creating brand loyalty.

Tiny and terrific

Microcopy is often used to describe the copy on websites that help users interact. Things like error messages, e-commerce hints, navigation menus, and so on. In the web copy world, it’s usually called UX copywriting.

Where you can amp up your microcopy on your website

On your website, microcopy or UX copywriting is commonly those small bits of informational copy that help a user know what to do and how to do it. Things like menu items and calls to action, but also things like little hints and tips are some of the most frequent examples.

  • Email sign-ups: Reassure users that you’ll be responsible with their email address, in a way that matches your brand tone. But OMG, please don’t do that hideous passive-aggressive thing when people decline to sign up for your opt-in. You know what I mean, it’s those messages like “Nah, I don’t need to know how to make more money.” Horrid. Just stop.
  • Shopping cart suggestions: Give additional product suggestions or let your customers know that they’ve nearly qualified for free shipping in an on-brand way. “Hey, you’re only $5 off qualifying for free shipping! Why not add one of these to your cart?”
  • Menu headings and navigation: Strike the balance between sensible and obvious, without being boring. Make it easy for site visitors to find their way around.
  • Error messages: Make your 404 ‘Page Not Found’ message more engaging and on-brand with fun yet helpful microcopy.

Surprise and delight

But as well as being powerful in the online world, I think microcopy is just as essential in offline copy too. Things like packaging copy, care instruction labels, shipping materials and more are all opportunities to use carefully selected words to reinforce your brand values and personality.


Microcopy on packaging

Great microcopy on packaging from Koala

Where you can amp up your microcopy offline

Here’s just a few examples of some places where you can think about changing up those little bits of copy that form part of your customer interactions and cement brand loyalty.

  • Packaging copy: Inject some personality to your boxes and wrapping. Don’t forget about the opportunities on the inside of packaging as well as the outside!
  • Care instructions: Give someone some unexpected joy when doing the laundry.
  • Hard-copy forms: Does your business have a hard-copy form that new clients fill in? Provide some helpful context around the questions you’re asking and how the information will be used.
  • Advertising: Print and outdoor campaigns are typically light on copy, so the words you do use need to be carefully chosen for maximum impact.

At all times, stay true to you

Wherever you are using microcopy, it’s important to ensure that you are staying true to your brand’s style and tone of voice. Don’t try to be super quirky with your microcopy if you’re straighty-180 everywhere else. But equally, don’t be afraid to use microcopy as a way to experiment with letting a little bit more personality through and creating a deeper connection with your customers.

Ultimately, clarity should always be your primary goal. But if you can do that with a little bit of flair, you’ll be well ahead of the crowd.

Over to you

Let me know any great examples of microcopy you’ve seen out in the wild. Or any challenges you’ve faced with creating useful and clear yet engaging microcopy.