FF transcreation agency FF creative translation agency FF tone of voice agency FF copywriting agency

Let’s be Frank

Lifting the lid on all things marketing, language, copy & transcreation.

light bulb overlaid on a women symbol

Sector Spotlight: Femtech

Coming soon to a vagina near you: femtech – the emerging sector shaking up how women tend to their health. And how they talk about it.

You see, in the old days, women didn’t have health needs. Or so centuries of no one thinking or talking about them would suggest. Back then, advertising looked like this:

A vintage tampon ad. Two women in bathing suits are talking. The copy reads: Shhh Listen in! The girls are talking about tampons. The Blonde: It's invisible sanitary protection, thank heavens... 'cause Fibs are worn internally... keep my secret safe even in this bathing suit. Otherwise I'd be missing lots of fun this summer. FIBS. The Kotex Tampon.

And this…

Are they selling… boats?

No wonder, then, that, as Caitlynne Hollis at Perifit puts it, women are ‘just fed up’.
Cue a raft of start-ups bursting onto the scene, offering everything from period pants, to pelvic trainers, to vaginal biome mapping. And it’s not just the products that are innovative. While traditional women’s health companies talk about ‘intimate areas’, and ‘life’s tricky moments’, femtech brands are using a much more honest and assertive tone to talk about women’s health. And we are here for it.

So join us (won’t you) as we dive into the language of this brave new world – shining the spotlight onto what a femtech tone of voice looks like, the language challenges femtech brands face, and the waves all that’s making in the wider world.

Language Challenges

Finding the words

One challenge for brands in the sector has been coming up with language to describe what they do. In fact, the name ‘femtech’, coined by Ida Tin, founder of Clue, has only been around since 2016.

‘The gender health gap’ is another handy new term – a neat catch-all for a disparity in men’s and women’s health outcomes that, as Juno Bio founder Leighton Turner explains, is ‘embedded through the entire chain of healthcare’.



Even things that have names can be tricky to talk about

For topics that have traditionally been taboo – like vaginas, periods, or incontinence – the available vocab tends to sound either clinical, coy, or jarringly up-front. Think ‘menses’ vs. ‘leaks’ vs. ‘period blood’.

Only reusable cup you can use during sex Healthy for your body; no odors, dryness or irritation Covers light to heavier flow Reusable and eco-friendly period solution

Brands like this one flop between tones – pairing no-nonsense language like ‘use during sex’ with old-fashioned sidesteps like ‘heavier flow’.

Most femtech brands try to try to smash the stigma and call a spade a spade. But advertising platforms hate spades.

And by ‘spades’ we mean ‘vaginas’.

A pink tangerine that looks like a vulva. The copy beside it says: THINX. UNDERWEAR FOR WOMEN WITH PERIODS.

This Thinx ad asserts the controversial view that menstruation exists, hence its ban from the New York subway.

In a small study run by Intimacy Justice, 100% of femtech brands had one of their ads pulled by Facebook, and half had their ad accounts suspended altogether, for crimes as serious as mentioning endometriosis, discussing the menopause, and acknowledging the existence of a pelvic floor.


Another challenge? Inclusivity.

Are you talking to ‘women’, ‘womxn’, or ‘people who menstruate’? When you deal in gendered languages, like Spanish or French, this question becomes even more fraught.

Popup ad that says: Join us, fellow bleeder! Subscribe and be the first tot know everything about exclusive deals and women's health. SIGN UP

Period product maker Intimina opts for ‘bleeder’, which we like because it sounds voluntary and, maybe, projectile.

It’s not easy to include everyone while also keeping messaging clear, and what feels inclusive to one person might not to someone else. It’s why brands need to stay in tune and make calls case-by-case.

Femtech Tone of Voice

Even if you’re already valiantly vaulting those messaging hurdles, there’s still the small matter of coming up with a tone of voice for your brand. For femtech start-ups, it all comes down to one thing: trust.

That’s partly par for the course when you’re dealing with health; you’re not going to let just anyone come poking around your bod with their swabs and their suppositories. And it’s partly because so many women have been burnt before – branding has to work doubly hard to win them round.


Making friends with consumers

One way to do that is to make yourself sound approachable. Which means getting as far from a ‘we know best’ attitude as possible. It’s why a lot of femtech companies position themselves as partners, and their audience as peers.

A screengrab from The Lowdown's website. The copy says: A community on a mission to make women heard.

Contraception comparison platform The Lowdown calls itself a ‘community’ instead of a ‘company’ or ‘brand’.

Which involves, as Caitlynne at Perifit puts it, ‘bringing something more than just a product, but also resources’ – whether that’s articles, podcasts, or events. The idea is to get past the old brand-customer dynamic – to give your audience useful content, and win their trust in return.

And the tone follows suit. Brands opt for the sort of casual language you’d use with a friend…

… and discuss health with words that are more caring than clinical.

The modern medical home for women. Join Tia. Learn about membership.

Calling its virtual clinic a ‘home’ adds warmth to Tia’s tone.


A feisty few femtech brands choose to be challenging

Sometimes that means adopting an adversarial attitude…


CDB period product maker Daye doesn’t pull any punches.

… and sometimes it means taking on taboos…

Handled with care, a challenger tone lets a brand blast clean through stigma, and stand out from a sea of sameness among sound-a-like approachable competitors.

Awkward Essentials website screengrab. A barbie doll sits on a toilet. The copy beside her says: meet dripstick, the original after-sex cleanup sponge. The semen soaker for your vaginal canal, so you can skip the post-sex drip. shop now.

Awkward Essentials tells it like it is.

But it’s not without risks. Fumble the execution, and copy can come across as patronising or glib.

understanding your cycle and knowing what works for your body is the key to learning how to put yourself first, every damn day. you deserve all that and more, babe.

What I deserve is a pay rise, babe.


Almost everyone tries to be clear…

… which makes sense. Transparency shows you’ve got nothing to hide.

Plus, femtech is new. That matters for a couple of reasons. First, you might be telling an audience about a thing they’ve never heard of before, so it can pay to keep copy clean, à la Perifit:


Second, unlike other categories, most of the time, a femtech brand isn’t inventing a problem so it can swoop in and solve it. Usually, the issues femtech companies tackle are real and pretty pressing. Which means comms are less about crafting an emotion or an attitude, and more about, as Leighton at Juno Bio puts it, ‘communicating value in very clear terms, and matching it with a product that delivers very clear value.’

Screengrab from Clue website. The copy says: Track periods, ovulation & PMS. Get predictions based on the most up-to-date science an illustration of a calendar Keep track of your cycle lengths to observe patterns an illustration of an arrow in a target Your predictions get more accurate every time you track

Clue keeps things clear.

What’s next?

As competition builds, femtech marketing will need to work harder to stand out. Which means brands are likely to start staking their stance on more than the fact that their products work. Add to that bigger budgets, and we could see more creative messaging in more mainstream media (a.k.a. cool telly ads, like this spot we worked on with Bodyform, one of the few women’s health OGs swerving away from a traditional tone).


All of which might get us a bit more used to hearing words like ‘vulva’ out loud

If the sight of violently blue liquid being poured into a sanitary towel quietly taught a generation of women not to talk about their bodies, the starry-eyed optimist in us hopes femtech could help reverse that trend. Maybe hearing about things like periods, pregnancy and prolapse more regularly could start to sand down some of those old stigmas, and give us new, clearer, better ways to talk about women’s health.

Femtech cheat sheet

You’re at a cocktail party. A fellow guest sidles up. ‘What the hell is femtech?’ they bark. But you are unfazed. Downing your martini in a single gulp including olive and cocktail stick, you reply that it broadly breaks down into a few areas:

Stuff to help with periods, like the Ziggy cup or Thinx period pants

Stuff to make sex better, like sex health app Rosy Wellness or audio sex coaching app Ferly.

Stuff to help you get pregnant, like Modern Fertility’s at-home fertility test or Breathe Ilo’s fertility breathalyser.

Stuff to stop you getting pregnant, like contraception comparison platform The Lowdown, or OUI, a suppository that turns your vaginal mucus into a natural sperm stopper (yes really)

Stuff for when you are pregnant, like Bloomlife’s pregnancy wearable, or virtual abortion clinic Hey Jane

Stuff to help look after your vagina or pelvis, like Juno Bio’s vaginal microbiome mapping, or Perifit’s pelvis-operated games