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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. With it: all the clichés. Vibrators sold as “little acts of love”. Strawberries and chocolate touted as a “match made in heaven”. Brands writing poems that start with roses are red, violets are blue, followed by something empowering all about you. 

On Valentine’s Day we’re hyperaware of clichés. So smart brands avoid them. They know it’s a time to stand out and say something different. And we’re all the better for it. 

Rooting out clichés when it comes to telling your brand story is hard. You could argue that womenswear brands and empowerment is a brand cliché. Strategy is about revealing human truths in a way that gives people aha moments. And if you’re just recycling clichés your audience is never going to arrive at that moment. 

When we worked with fresh cat food brand KatKin, the entire cat care category felt like a cliché. Think: sweet, fluffy feline friends. Gentle brands that played into the “gentle, introvert” cliché of cat parents. And a perception that cats are easy to care for. 

But through conversations with cat owners, deep dives into Reddit threads and the most die-hard cat fan on our team (hi, Rae) – we realised cats and their owners, were actually super hardcore. Being a cat parent means a life covered in scratches and love bites. And enduring mouse sacrifices on their doorstep circa 6AM. So we built a brand strategy and story all around the hardcore love of cat parents. 

So this Valentine’s and beyond it, push yourself to think outside the obvious – go deeper, find more interesting insights, tell different stories. You’ll cultivate that creative mindset that says to do something different. Never a candlelit dinner. 

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“The problem with clichés is not that they contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of very good ones. The sun is often on fire at sunset and the moon discreet, but if we keep saying this every time we encounter a sun or a moon, we will end up believing that this is the last rather than the first word to be said on the subject. Clichés are detrimental insofar as they inspire us to believe that they adequately describe a situation while merely grazing its surface.”

― Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life
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The Interview Header

Every generation has its clichés. But Gen-Z is the hot target for lazy generalisations, overused stereotypes and lame memes. We chatted to Carolyn McMurray, founder of Word Tonic – a space for Gen-Z writers to connect, collaborate and learn new skills – about talking to Gen-Z and the brands that are really cutting through. Like Milwaukee Library: I don’t even live in Milwaukee and their Instagram account makes me want to travel 30,000 miles just to go to their library. (They’re fun, weird AF, and defy social norms – just look at this reel about a grandma reading manga). 

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Every cat deserves a cat parent who will go hell for leather for their wellbeing. And every cat parent deserves a brand they can trust to be as uncompromising as them. That’s the strategy we built for KatKin. They exist to cut the fluff. With no brown-nosing, scratching backs, or cuddles on command. Crafting a tone of voice rooted in fierce independence, we helped their team tell it like is. 

Within your category, what’s the biggest date for clichés? International Women’s Day. Blue Monday.

Create a campaign, email or event that would go against the clichés.

Hit reply to submit your prompt


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