Q: Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up in writing and marketing?
A: I've always loved working with words, as I think is evidenced by my education and career so far! I'm fascinated by the way we can use language to invoke certain feelings, and how we can play with language to create new meanings. One of my favourite books is Riddley Walker (1980) by Russell Hoban, which is written entirely in an imagined post-apocalyptic pidgeon English, and the way it demonstrates how language can be so slippery in the way it conveys meaning is really exciting. This fascination led me to creative writing. With regards marketing, to be perfectly honest, I've always been highly cynical about it. It feels like there's a lot of dishonesty in marketing, a lot of superficiality. But it doesn't have to be that way. That's why I'm passionate about telling the real stories behind the brand, making the real connection with the audience, bringing real value. Focusing on people over profit.
Q: What are the most interesting things you've learnt in your first year at Rusty Monkey?
A: It's been great to be able to learn a bit of graphic design, because I've always been restricted to just dealing with the words in the past. I think the synergy of words and images is so important, you really can't just work on one in isolation. They're a package deal.
Q: You've said you like brands that communicate well. Can you list some of your favourites?
A: Dr Martens, definitely. Even if I didn't like their boots, I'd have to recognise the brilliance of their brand. It really is a masterclass in branding. I was in Camden this weekend and popped into their store there - they have a stage for live bands to play on and a mini-museum that tells with real passion the story of their brand. I actually found myself welling up a bit. That's what you want. I also love Cyberdog - I love how playful they are with their brand and products, and their store in Camden is also a fantastic experience. What both of them do really well is giving you something more than just their products - it's really about feeling part of something special.
Q: What are your top tips for getting tone of voice branding right?
A: It's all about your audience. You have to really get to know them. Don't try to appeal to everybody - figure out who your desired target audience is and talk directly to them. Even use the language they use when they're talking to each other. It doesn't matter if you alienate 90% of the people who read your stuff, because that other 10% will love you so much that they'll stay loyal to you for a long time. Also, stand out. Don't be vanilla. Be interesting.
Q: Where do you source your inspiration from?
A: Kurt Vonnegut is my hero. He's an absolute master in communicating complex emotions in just a few words. His books are quite short, but there's so much story in there. Breakfast of Champions (1973) is a brilliant critique of mid-twentieth-century capitalist America (much like Mad Men). I'm also fascinated by modern philosophy - Jean Baudrillard's work can teach us a lot about digital and virtual societies (did you know his book Simulacra and Simulation  partly inspired The Matrix?). One of the best pieces of journalism I have ever read is John Hersey's piece on Hiroshima (1946). If you haven't already read it, please do - it's available in full on the New Yorker's website and it may well change your life. None of these are marketing pieces, but they are exquisite examples of communication. I'm also going to mention Orson Welles' adaptation of The War of the Worlds (1938) - although it wasn't quite as explosive as the media made out at the time, it was a visionary piece of broadcasting. It did something totally new, and I'm not sure anything else has quite achieved what it did since. You can listen to it in full on Wikipedia, which is pretty cool. Make sure you've got a sofa to hide behind.
We don't mean to brag, but Mel's skills don't stop there. If you love her writing as much as we do, she has a fantastic blog with a selected collection of her creative work.