How to be really good at beauty copywriting, with Glossier's Annie Kreighbaum.
Everyone's talking about Glossier! Maybe it's because they create effective, easy-to-use skin care products and cosmetics that are instantly iconic and irresistibly Instagram-able. What also helps is how they talk about said products in such a way that makes the world want to be a part of the conversation. As an offshoot of the gold standard beauty blog Into the Gloss, Glossier already had a relationship with its target market when it launched in 2014 and took off like a Sephora shoplifter. A strong brand voice, it turns out, is a good thing to have. Since Glossier's is as subtly impressive as its Perfecting Skin Tint, we thought we'd ask Executive Editor Annie Kreighbaum exactly how they do what they do. (Hint: Drake lyrics are always game.)
EVERYONE LOVES THE GLOSSIER VOICE! IS IT DIFFERENT NOW THAN WHAT YOU INTENDED WHEN THE BRAND LAUNCHED?
Our voice has stayed pretty consistent, but over time, we’ve tightened up on the edit and come to prefer shorter copy that packs a punch. There's definitely a time and a place to expand on things and write entire paragraphs though.
HOW DOES GLOSSIER'S VOICE COMPARE TO INTO THE GLOSS?
They're very similar: friendly and informative. I would say starting in editorial is an advantage. We know how to talk with people. It comes naturally.
THE GLOSSIER GIRL IS UNFUSSY. HOW DO YOU GET THAT EASY-BREEZINESS TO COME THROUGH IN YOUR COPY?
It's important for us to only use words you'd actually say in an in-person conversation. We don’t like to make up words that you wouldn’t ever use, like "talons" for nails.
WHEN YOU'RE CHOOSING A PRODUCT NAME, IS THERE A STRATEGY BEHIND WHETHER YOU GO FOR SOMETHING STRAIGHTFORWARD OR PLAYFUL (PRIMING MOISTURIZER VS. BALM DOTCOM)?
It depends on the personality of the product. You want to make the product sound interesting, but not confuse people as to what it is. A shimmery makeup product, you can get more experimental with (Haloscope), whereas skincare you want something more straightforward (Priming Moisturizer). Though masks are more of a fun, experiential product, so the names speak to that (Mega Greens Galaxy Pack). The SOI (statement of intent), or sub-name is super important. It can convey any info you might not get across in the primary name (Haloscope Dew Effect Highlighter). We also play around with shade names. I would say we try not to be too precious about those, and just have a good time brainstorming them.
WHAT SOURCES OF FEEDBACK FROM YOUR AUDIENCE ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Sales! And when we see Glossier customers evangelizing and repeating things we say on their personal Instagrams and snapchats. We’re constantly looking at that content and sending each other screenshots of what people are saying. Love a regram...love when people tag their friends in our posts. Sometimes they take the time to leave a comment specifically on our copy, and that feels pretty great.
HOW DO YOU GET FANS TALKING ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS?
Having content and social channels that are fun and interesting to follow is one part. You get a lot of shares on that. Then you talk to people in person and they're almost shocked about how good the products are. That classic word-of-mouth on product efficacy is the most powerful, in my opinion.
DOES YOUR COMMUNITY HAVE AN INFLUENCE ON HOW THE GLOSSIER VOICE DEVELOPS?
A lot of our voice is informed by the kinds of conversations we have with our Into The Gloss readers, who are a crucial part of the Glossier community. We’re writing for intelligent, like-minded people.
DO YOU THINK BEAUTY CONSUMERS LIKE SEEING SLANG AND INTERNET MEMES IN BRAND COPY, OR DOES IT COME OFF SUPER CORNY?
There's a time and a place, but I do urge everyone that writes copy for Glossier to avoid it because it's easy to overuse and then you become this brand that sounds too trendy, and, quite frankly, like everything else that's on the Internet. That's not good. It's important for us to test jokes on coworkers. If it's funny to most people at Glossier, it'll be funny to the people that follow us. I'm trying to ease up to it, because sometimes you can nail it.
WHAT ABOUT SONG LYRICS?
Song lyrics you should be careful about. What is the subject matter of the song? Is it lighthearted enough to turn into marketing copy? Sometimes I feel weird about taking lyrics that are making a statement about something important like equality and female empowerment and turning them into an email subject line for a flash sale. We tend to avoid it. Drake lyrics are usually fair game though.