It's not often you hear of a copywriting firm, which is exactly why Jess Hatzis and Bree Johnson thought it was a great idea, and they started Willow and Blake. Their next big idea was also a foreign concept at the time — a coffee-based body scrub.
As Jess recalls it, they were faced with the challenge of not only selling a product that looked like dirt, but they were going to do it with a brand that focused on voice and tone via Instagram. All this even before Instagram was even used as a real marketing tool. Judging by Frank Body's 690 thousand Instagram followers, it seems like it was a risk worth taking.
Jess is the Creative Director and co-founder of Frank Body, the signature coffee scrub brand that really pioneered a genuine, signature voice on social media, that's now a pillar of memorable customer experience. In this episode, Jess talks to Stephan from her homebase in Melbourne, Australia about launching Frank Body, crafting the signature voice of Frank, facing the challenges of the retail space, and the business books she's been reading lately.
You may not know it from their Instagram fame, but this coffee scrub brand started with just $10,000 and the simple idea that they were going be frank with everything that they did — from the tone of voice to the ingredients list. They insisted that there would be no jargon or overly trendy language, and they always keep it real. That's where the name Frank came from.
After they established a voice and launched their first product, the Frank team got to work on a copy style guide. This is one of those projects that often gets pushed to the side and drawn out, but for Frank, it was a top priority. Jess said it takes a lot of time, but having that base to grow their brand from was invaluable.
Every new person they added to the team, from copywriters to customer service, needed to speak in the voice of Frank. The style guide covered words Frank would and wouldn't use (never "bae"), and states that he would never use corporate speak and he always speaks in first person.
“Being willing to be wrong is how you learn to be right most of the time.”
But of course, business isn't all about brand image. Behind the scenes, Frank dealt with problems of scale just like any vertical, direct-to-consumer business. They've had to adapt to fulfillment services falling through, global expansion to the U.S., and most recently, their journey into retail.
Why retail? The #FrankEffect really comes full circle when customers come in physical contact with the brand, so they're launching in retailers around the world. The biggest challenge is grabbing a customers' attention when you're restrained to one sentence on a shelf amidst competitors instead of having a whole homepage to share you brand image and philosophy. Translating a brand for the retail space means losing some opportunity for impact.
Jess says that most people fall in love with the brand before they even touch the product, so delivering on that experience in physical locations is the latest, exciting challenge for Jess and her team. You can keep up with Frank's newest adventures on Instagram and follow Jess on Instagram and Twitter.
Also mentioned on this episode:
- The Copywriter's Handbook by Robert Bly
- Voice and Tone by Mailchimp
- Copywriting style guide by Mailchimp
- The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
- Harvard Business Review's On Managing Yourself
- Let My People go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard founder of Patagonia
- How I Built This podcast
- Gimlet Media
- Homecoming podcast
- Science Vs
- Jess's article on Medium: My Life as a Female Fill in the Blank
- Shipping Things — A new video series from Lumi!
Images via Frank Body
Second Life Packaging: A Clever Approach to Sustainability
Designs for reusable packaging that skip the recycling bin.
How the Paper Industry is Offsetting Climate Change
A deep dive into the forests and paper mills that produce one of the most important materials on the planet.
Talk Shop with Yo Santosa and Owen Gee
Branding goes beyond the logo. We talked with design agency Ferroconcrete about crafting a memorable brand.
How the Corrugate Market Affects Box Prices
These are the industry changes affecting the increase in box pricing.
Running a Business with Boobs: The Things I Never Say
5 things the Lumi founder has never said about the things you shouldn't say either. All of them are from personal experience.