Story about an interesting Twitter brand account

In just two months, No Name may have become the coolest Canadian brand on Twitter.

The just-the-basics, private-label line of Loblaw Companies Ltd., famous for its simple black and yellow branding, has gone from zero to 24,600 followers with the kind of engagement that most social marketers covet, all while impressing the big shots at Twitter who study these things.

At the end of July, Twitter’s head of global brand strategy, Alex Josesphson, tweeted out his admiration for @NoNameBrands, calling the account “textbook-brilliant use of Twitter for brands.”

“The No Name account has become one of Canada’s most recognizable and most talked-about brand accounts in a few short months,” Paul Burns, Twitter Canada’s managing director told The Message. “The No Name team has really found a unique voice that is both authentic to No Name as a brand, but also very much at home on Twitter in terms of tone, cadence and humour.

“It’s definitely an account that’s getting considerable notice, both internally at Twitter and amongst Canadians on our service.”

It began with a declarative tweet on June 10: “i am a brand. follow me” above an image of the word tweet in No Name’s instantly recognizable black and yellow colour scheme.

One hundred and seven posts have followed, just 16 of which are original tweets; the rest are playful replies to followers who’ve tweeted at the iconic black-and-yellow @NoNameBrands Twitter handle.

This may be a strategic marketing play to connect with consumers in a new channel, but it also feels like the Loblaw social team is doing it for their own amusement. Technically they are pushing No Name product, speaking with consumers in the kind of casual, personal manner that Twitter requires. But No Name Twitter has captured a unique voice, a distinctive personality that eludes so many brands.

When people tweet nice things about the account, No Name responds with a humble gif—literally a gif file that says “humble gif.” When @adina123 asked @NoNameBrands for a phone background, she got one.

At first it’s hard to tell if No Name the persona just likes to tell dad jokes, or is actually incredibly socially savvy, making ironic jokes about Twitter itself.

When @NoNameBrands tweeted out a photo of a can of “six bean blend” beans with the line “contains numerous beans,” someone replied “lly” (licking love you, we looked it up). @NoNameBrands responded with “less than 3” rather than the typical “<3” emoticon for the heart symbol.

The humour comes from the personality of the brand itself, said Dave Wotherspoon, senior director, creative, content and social media, with Loblaw Companies. No Name has a huge number of products, he said. “And they’re very simple. My favourites are the simplest [like] a bag of peas that just says peas. So how else would [the brand] speak.”

The goal with the Twitter account was to be helpful, but with a simplicity that reflects the brand. Most of the tweets are four or five words: No Name’s social biscuits can be eaten alone; triangle tortilla chips will change shape when they are chewed, and quick-tie garbage bags can, in fact, be tied slowly.

“I think the place that we wanted to go with is thinking about No Name just wanting to be super helpful, very brief and see what happens,” said Wotherspoon.

But it’s seems like the voice may be some of Wotherspoon himself. “I’ve been working for this company for a long time, more than 20 years, and I’ve always been a big fan of the beauty of this brand—it’s black Helvetica on yellow and says what it is so simply,” he said.

“I have been wanting No Name to speak to people for many years,” he said. “And it has always been clear to me that the start was to label things: do a bus that says bus, do a building that says building. This is just a natural extension of  that. It’s the simplicity. To me it’s just natural, but maybe I’ve been thinking about it for too long.”

Loblaw’s creative agency John St. helped develop the concept for @NoNameBrands, but the content is being produced internally by Wotherspoon’s team.

“I think the Twitter strategy reflects the brand’s complete and utter commitment to brutal honesty. And distaste for puffery, exaggeration and hype,” said John St. creative director Angus Tucker. “But at the same time, you have to make it interesting. It was a tricky tightrope.”

The No Name voice currently exists only on Twitter, which is a perfect environment for the brand, said Wotherspoon. “Twitter is so direct, so short and to the point. It’s just a perfect outlet.”

Loblaw wouldn’t say how the tweets are boosting the brand, but the account itself went from zero to 10,000 followers in two weeks, and is now sitting at 24,600. Some of the content is being promoted through paid posts. “But interestingly, even then you’ll see people commenting ‘This is a promoted post but I’m okay with it,'” said Wotherspoon. “Which is awesome and hilarious.”

David Brown