I have a Love-Hate relationship with branding. OK…it’s really more of a Hate-Hate relationship with branding when it comes to Facebook Ads. Why?
Well, often business owners let their obsession with branding get in the way of sales conversions. That’s because they think branding matters more than messaging – even when their target audience has no idea who they are.
The sad reality is that death-by-branding can happen to anyone. It can rear its ugly head in your ad copy…your static images…your videos. Even headlines aren’t immune to the perils of brand-icide!
Here’s what it sounds like when a business owner murders a great ad with their brand:
“Hmm…you haven’t quite nailed our brand voice in this copy…”
“This language feels a little off-brand…”
“I’m not feeling our brand values coming through in this imagery”
Now before you get all defensive about your own branding, I want you to know one thing. I’m not against branding. Far from it. In fact, I’m very much PRO-BRAND – in the right situations.
The thing with cold traffic Facebook Ads is that it’s not the right situation to worry about your brand. Here’s why…
The REAL purpose of branding...
(It’s not to make sales)
Branding is about building long-term relationships and establishing loyalty. It’s about creating a deep (some might say illogical) connection to a product because of the way it makes you feel.
Brand loyalty builds over time. It happens over multiple touchpoints. These touchpoints could be advertising…the buying experience…post-purchase customer service…how you use the product…and the approval you get from others.
All this adds up in your mind to create an unbreakable bond with the product or business. Just think about all those frenzied Apple Fans who queue up at dawn for their next tech fix. Or Coca Cola lovers who swear they can tell the difference between Coke…Pepsi…and Supermarket Roller Cola. (I’m pretty sure there’s no difference).
It’s why brand advertising is so hard to measure. It’s practically impossible to attribute sales to any particular brand advertising campaign – because the goals of brand advertising are too broad and dare-I-say fluffy?
But why does this matter to Facebook Advertisers?
An Ad’s an Ad, Right? Wrong!
Despite what you might think, Facebook is first and foremost a Direct Response advertising platform. (I explain the difference in detail in this blog).
It means your goal should be to trigger immediate, and measurable action from your target audience. And what do we know about branding? Brand recognition and connection happens over time. It’s not immediate and does not bring about instant conversions.
Which means your brand is more or less irrelevant in your cold traffic Facebook Ads. In fact, as far as cold prospects are concerned you might as well have no brand at all.
Why You Should Throw Out Your
Brand Guidelines On Facebook
Think about it this way…
If you’re scrolling the Facebook Newsfeed and an ad pops up for a healthy snack brand that you’ve never heard of before – do you care if the image contains the right brand colours? Do you care if the copy is in the right brand voice? Do you even care if the ad looks attractive in the newsfeed?
Of course not! You don’t care one jot.
All you care about is how this snack is going to make your life better…and the reasons why you should invest your time and money in giving it a try.
When you worry about your brand on Facebook, it’s a surefire sign you’re thinking about your products from your own perspective. You’re letting your ego detract from the sale.
You’re not thinking about your ad from the perspective of your all-important buyers. They don’t care about your branding. All they care about is bumbling through their own busy lives.
OK..so branding sucks!
What should I do instead?
Before you throw your hands up in despair – because you’ve been wasting money on beautiful, on-brand Facebook ads – help is at hand.
It’s easier than you think to ditch your brand and start creating Facebook ads the right way. And I’m about to explain how…
- Visual Creative – it’s tempting to try and look all slick and fancy when you’re paying for advertising. After all, you want to look professional when you’re sharing the newsfeed with established brands.
Trouble is, those established brands have very different goals from you. They’re playing the long game – and they’re probably happy to wait 3…6…even 9 months for the sales to start trickling in.
Plus it’s likely they’ve already built up an element of brand recognition with their target audience. Which is why it’s important for them to make sure their brand is front and centre.
For smaller, less established businesses you need to advertise for impact and results. Like, now!
Here are a couple of non-brand image ideas you can try in your ads:
- Striking imagery that stops Facebook scrollers and grabs their attention – don’t worry if your graphics are ugly. Your goal is to tell a story about the pain point you solve OR the transformation you provide.
- Face to camera photographs – Every once in a while I see an ad with a face to camera close-up, where the subject looks like they’re making direct eye contact with me. These types of images are slightly creepy. They’re also great for grabbing attention.
- Loud, contrasting colours – Instead of fixating on using brand colours, why not test different colour schemes to see if reds…blues…or greens etc help your ads convert better.
- Images that tell a story – Curiosity works really well in direct response advertising. Which is why storytelling images are brilliant for sucking cold traffic into your ad. Look for images that express an unusual or emotionally-charged situation. This will pique your prospect’s curiosity and pull them into your ad.
- Raw, native looking imagery – What happens when you see an ad coming? That’s right! You do your best to ignore it, right? It’s one of the reasons why I dislike polished brand advertising campaigns. They’re obviously ads, which makes them really easy to avoid!
Why not try using raw-looking imagery, which looks similar to the kind of photos Facebook users share in the newsfeed? This can help conceal your ad, giving you a better chance of sucking people into your ad copy – before they realise it’s an ad!
- Memes – If you’re not funny – don’t try to create your own memes. But if you are funny, memes work great in Facebook ads. Why? Because they can tell a story…they can summarise your product’s big benefit…and they look native to the newsfeed. Plus people are more likely to buy if you’ve made them laugh. Winner!
OK, so now we’ve covered how to create off-brand visual creatives that help boost your ad conversions…let’s think about how you should write your ad copy.
2. Copy rules for intentionally off-brand Facebook Ads – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…
Cold prospects don’t care about your brand. They only care about how your product can make their life better. So, with that in mind – do you think cold audiences care about your brand voice? No they do not.
Do you think cold audiences even know what your brand voice sounds like? Still no. It’s why you should save your brand voice for your email and website copy.
Which is why I want you to focus all your attention on these four rules when writing your ad copy:
- Be clear – There’s a golden rule in direct response copywriting. It’s that clarity trumps persuasion. What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes it’s more effective to have a crystal clear message than it is to have the strongest argument. (Especially if you weren’t able to articulate your argument in a way that’s easy to understand).
I’d also like to add that clarity trumps brand voice. If you’re faced with a choice between preserving your brand voice or maintaining clarity – you should always sacrifice voice and side with clarity.
- Be empathetic – Too often I see Facebook Ad copy that bangs on about all the things that a product or brand IS…DOES…or BELIEVES IN.
You might not want to hear this but cold traffic does not care about any of that stuff unless you can tie it back to your prospects’ actual fears and desires.
So, when you write about your products and services, make sure you ask yourself “So What?” after every statement. Every word you write must be relevant to your prospects.
If it isn’t, you risk simply patting yourself on the back while generating crickets and tumbleweed
- Get straight to the point – OK, so I do really appreciate it when I receive an email written in a distinct brand voice. It’s awesome. And anyone who can create different voices in their copy has a wonderful talent that I’m super jealous about.
However, brand voice can be dangerous on Facebook.
Firstly, if it overrides clarity, as I already mentioned. But secondly because focusing too much on voice can make your copy too long-winded.
I used to think fancy turns of phrase and clever expressions were the key to writing great copy. Turns out I was wrong. The best performing Facebook Ad copy wastes no time on word gymnastics and gets straight to-the-point.
By all means use power words that let you succinctly convey the right energy. But avoid the temptation to embellish in order to sound on-brand. Facebook users will not give you the benefit of the doubt if you ramble on for too long.
- Be persuasive – If I had £1 for every business owner who asked me to cut short my ad copy…I’d be joining the space race with Elon Musk and Beff Bezos.
This is often because advertisers want to use brand-style short copy to generate direct response style sales conversions.
Doesn’t work I’m afraid. If you want to make immediate sales, you need to PERSUADE people to buy from you. That means giving an irrefutable argument to explain why your product is the only solution for your audience.
So, now you have what it takes to write high-converting, brandless Facebook ads to boost your sales in the newsfeed.
Here’s a quick recap of the main points in this article:
- Branding does not generate instant sales – it’s a slow-burn process that creates long-term relationships
- Cold audiences on Facebook don’t care about your brand – they only care about how you can solve their problems
- Replace beautiful on-brand imagery with hard-hitting images that tell a sales story
- Forget brand voice in your copy. Clarity and persuasion are king.
Want the secret to cranking out profitable Facebook Ad Copy in minutes
…even if you’ve never written a Facebook ad before?