That’s the Tone I Love

Robert Mills

It’s no secret that I think the tone of voice on the LOVEFiLM website is bad. It’s a real bug bear of mine and despite trying to speak to them about it, it’s no surprise they don’t want to hear the opinion of a Monster Munch crunching writer from Wales. After moaning about it on Twitter every so often though, I thought it was best I show exactly why I think LOVEFiLM are missing a trick when it comes to their tone of voice.

My issue is that their tone is so standard and middle of the road. It’s also more formal than I think they should be. For those who aren’t familiar with LOVEFiLM, they offer an online film rental service. You create an account, sign up to a plan, choose your films and they post them to you. Then you watch them at your leisure and post them back in the pre-paid envelope. In a nutshell, they provide entertainment.

Here in lies the problem. They needn’t be so formal and dull with their tone because they are all about leisure and entertainment. It was with great interest that last week I found a company that sells DVDs online, That’s Entertainment. They are the same as LOVEFiLM with the exception of the rental/purchase difference, but they too are all about leisure and entertainment and they have captured this with their tone of voice.

In this blog post I am going to do a like for like comparison of different parts of these two websites to clearly demonstrate how two companies that essentially provide the same service, can have two very different tones, one of which is formal and boring and one of which is fun and relaxed. You’ve probably guessed by now that I am a fan of the latter.


To set the scene, here are the home pages as of today, for LOVEFiLM and That’s Entertainment respectively:


Already we can see that the That’s Entertainment site has more personality, brought to life with illustration, little arrows here and there and the tone. It’s a fun website in comparison to the ‘boxy’ and lifeless LOVEFiLM site. This theme continued as I interacted with both sites.

Sign In

I went to sign into both sites are I was greeted with the following:

How incredibly dull is the LOVEFiLM copy and tone? It doesn’t mean the user can’t complete the task at hand but it is so generic and ‘meh’. There are no sparks of personality or pleasantries. They don’t really address users like people and no relationship is created. It’s very corporate, stuffy and formal. They have opted for the ‘returning subscribers’ and ‘new subscribers’ approach.

That’s Entertainment on the other hand, also have clear and accurate copy that allows the user to complete their tasks, whether that be signing in or signing up, but they have approached it with more pizazz by including snippets of personality and fun. Even just saying ‘Hi There’ gives them some sort of life and creates a more emotional connection between them and their audience. A connection which is distinctly lacking with LOVEFiLM’s approach.

That’s Entertainment also say, ‘if you have used us before just login below … oh, and welcome back’. It made me smile, I was happy to be back and I decided to dig deeper to see if these two tones were the same the more tasks I completed.

Forgotten Password

I pretended I had forgotten my passwords for both sites and decided to reset them. After clicking on the forgotten password links on both sites I was presented with the following:

Are you sensing a theme here too? I almost read all of the LOVEFiLM copy like a Dalek after a few minutes on the site. Forgotten > Create > Continue. That’s Entertainment have a much more fun way of dealing with it and also reassured me that everyone forgets things from time to time, so it’s ok because they have a solution.

I popped my email address into both sites and here are the outcomes.

On the LOVEFiLM site I kept getting their error page. Frustrating because had I really needed to reset my password I would have been stumped, but a blessing in disguise in some ways as their 404 revealed a glimmer of personality:

They can do it, sort of! If only this tone were adopted across the site with a little more effort and joy. The fully working That’s Entertainment site gave me this gem:

I was indeed back in business are ready to go. The email they sent me to confirm my password was consistently pleasant too:

Once I had logged back in there were much clearer call to actions on the That’s Entertainment site. LOVEFiLM’s left me just wanting to get out of there as quickly as possible:

At this point I searched a film on both sites and was able to add it to my list/basket with ease and when I signed out they both took me straight back to the homepage. I had very different experiences in between though. That’s Entertainment was engaging, it spoke to me like a friend, made me smile, kept me engaged, provided an enjoyable experience and left me thinking, they know who they are and how to communicate this.

LOVEFiLM, who I really do hope I can write something positive about one day, left me feeling like there was no personal connection between us, I am merely just another subscription number that gives them money every month. There was no fun or imagination in their copy, no friendliness in their tone and certainly no personality anywhere, save for that glimmer on the error page.

They’re missing a trick. That’s Entertainment perfectly demonstrates how it can and should be done. It shows that they have their audience firmly in mind when creating content and this is seen consistently across the site and in the attention to detail too.

I won’t expect LOVEFiLM to change any time soon but I live in hope for a friendlier and more fun LOVEFiLM tone of voice that shakes off the big company cloak and pops on a polka dot t shirt.