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Craig Blackburn

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Tone of voice and website copy for

About this project

When Blue Scribe was called in to help reorient this national e-commerce business based in Cornwall (in July 2015) the results took everyone by surprise.


The brand launched in April 2015 from a warehouse (and a physical shop) in Penryn, although the owners had been trading under other names since 2010. Today the five-strong team sells more than 500 styles of sandals and flip flops (from 20 global brands) to customers around the UK through an online shop.

Setting the scene

When I met directors, Ant James and Zac Hillier, they had already outgrown two warehouses and were approaching their third expansion (and buying more than £12k worth of stock every week throughout the summer, with an annual turnover of more than £500k).

Things were getting big, fast; they needed clarity on their brand identity as they approached the next stage of growth.

The brief

The brief, commissioned through content agency, BeContent (based in Falmouth), was to create brand guidelines and website copy for the About Us and Home pages. The effects of that work were to have a greater impact than any of us imagined. While two pages of the About Us copy (Meet The Team and Why Flip Flop Shop) have been published, two pages were kept back, and here’s why.

Applying the brand guidelines

As well as spelling out the company’s identity, I beefed up their tone of voice guide to show them how they should communicate with their customers in writing. According to Zac, the brand guide had an intense effect: “What you did reached into our business much deeper than we expected. It made us realise that we need to approach our customer differently, both from a user experience angle and the way we communicate to them via email. Feedback from staff about the brand guidelines also made us realise there is a whole other customer group that we never realised existed.”

Applying the website copy

Using this guide I refined their existing tagline, summed up their value proposition in home page copy and told their story in evocative narrative (for the Flip Flop Shop Story page).

So why didn’t they use all the copy?

First, the Home page copy highlighted a gap between their promise and their technology.

“We realised the copy for the homepage started the journey for our customer into the site and brand but the technology didn’t yet deliver – our site didn’t enable the next step very well – so publishing the copy without the tech to help the customer along the next step would detract from the experience.”

While this might not sound like the ideal result, for Zac and Ant, the whole process couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The process was timed perfectly for us and continues to throw up more questions, the answers to which are helping us move forward,” said Zac. “Overall, the process has been really beneficial, even if all the copy hasn’t all been used yet. In a nutshell, it’s made us evolve.”

Secondly, Zac and Ant wanted to make better use of the ‘Story’ copy: “The copy for the Flip Flop Shop Story page, which also hasn’t been published, whetted our appetites to create more compelling content, to engage with our customers on a more personal level – I think that’s more appealing and will help to tell our brand story better than what we’re currently doing. The quality of writing is superb, but we’re holding that back while we build on that work.

“Craig, you have that journalist nature and you won’t stop digging until you find the story, in this case, it was our brand story.”

Not the end of the story

In 2016, the business partners predict their turnover will almost double year-on-year. They also have some other groundbreaking developments to announce which will keep them ahead of the curve, including the addition of that extra on-site technology to guide their customers through the website in a more logical way. 

 See the rest of my portfolio.

  • : When Blue Scribe was called in to help reorient this national e-commerce business based in Cornwall (in July 2015) the results took everyone by surprise.
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