A lot of people think of witty, funny, and cool when they think of “edgy” copy. But those are just the symptoms of edginess. The underlying cause is honesty. Being edgy often means saying what everyone else in your target audience is thinking, but holds back on saying. If you can do it in a witty and funny way, so much the better—but the cool factor ultimately comes from honesty.
The reason people often hold back on saying edgy things is that they’re not the most diplomatic things to say. Admitting something that everyone else feels but is nervous about saying gives your brand a certain power. You don’t have to be outright offensive to achieve this tone—it will most likely work against you if you are—but it may be a tone or message that doesn’t appeal to everyone. The trade-off is that if you can do it right, you’ll appeal even more strongly to your target market.
Still, there’s a line, and it’s sometimes hard to see. Edginess can become offensiveness if you’re not careful. To do it well, you’ll need to have a very good ear for not only what will and won’t offend your target market, but what will bother your non-target market so much that the negative response from others will negate the positive response from your target demographic.
An edgy tone isn’t for everyone. If you want to go for an edgy tone in your company’s copy, be sure you know this will appeal to your target market. Some markets are more formal and more conservative than others, and some brands and services are better served by more conservative tones. If you’re looking to project dependability or reassurance, for example, a more reserved tone may be more effective.