The Language of (Online) Love

The Language of (Online) Love

Leith copywriter, Mairi Wilson, discusses how to make, design and promote an app to help others find love.

Apparently ten years ago, if you fancied someone you had to walk up to them in a pub and ask to buy them a drink. Today, you walk up to someone in a pub and hope when you ask, "are you Jared?" they don’t say, "aye, but you’d better no’ be Mairi." And it’s all thanks to a few apps.

A mere eight years ago, Tinder launched. The internet’s answer to the age-old question, how do you know if someone likes you? The answer: a thumb swipe. Since then, countless dating apps have tried, and many have failed, to get past their first anniversary. So how do you stand out in the world of online love?

The OG

With Tinder, the idea was simple. Add the principal of seeing someone attractive and take away the awkward variable of them turning you down to your face. In effect, gamifying dating. And ultimately, that’s what Tinder has become: a bit of a game. While it’s true many do use it to try and find their elusive other half, others just use it to fill the time on a long bus journey – or wile away the hours in self-isolation.

But users have turned the tide slightly on its initial USP. Yes, the app is primarily about looks. But a surprisingly important feature ended up being the bios. As a copywriter from a generation raised on a diet of 120 Twitter characters, you can see the attraction of summarising yourself in a witty one-liner. Even just as an exercise in self-awareness.

Tinder is to all extents a dating app. And to be fair, they’ve never said they weren’t. Instead of distancing themselves from their colloquial status as a ‘hook-up’ app, Tinder have leaned into it. Their most recent ad campaign led with a single proposition – literally. ‘Single is a Terrible Thing to Waste’. After all, a piece of tinder is for getting the fire started. You decide the size of the flames.

Their online love language: cheeky.

The Language of (Online) Love

The Rebel

In 2014, Whitney Wolfe Herd, co-founder of Tinder, decided to do things a wee bit differently. If Tinder was the prototype for how to create a successful, ‘traditional’ dating app, Bumble entered the chat with a few things to say about the word ‘traditional’. Although Tinder revolutionised how we see online dating, it maintained some of the more antiquated aspects of finding a partner. Namely: boy meets girl. By contrast, Bumble started with a feminist outlook, prompting women to take the lead.

The second difference to Tinder stems from a place of honesty. Users can indicate their intentions. ‘Something casual’ or a ‘relationship’. Or even the option to say not sure, or not say anything at all. In the end, you have an app designed to make connections, and Bumble have even begun to explore this functionality for building friendship and business networks. Imagine finding your new partner, best pal and even the lass who does your accounts on a ‘dating app’. Can’t argue with that.

For me, Bumble is a great example of excellent UX. It’s a given that good UX begins and ends with the user. But the designers and developers at Bumble went one stage further and started with the human. What this leaves is a much less one-dimensional app, and a very human one.

Their online love language: brave.

The Language of (Online) Love

The Newbie

Well, not actually a newbie. But new to the cultural zeitgeist of twenty somethings. Hinge slipped neatly into a gap in the market ironically created by its rival, Tinder. The latter is a dating app for single people. The former is ‘designed to be deleted’; a dating app for those not wanting to be single anymore.

Where Tinder has probably commented something witty under your Instagram post, Hinge has slid into your DMs and actually said something quite charming. Take a look at their most recent Instagram posts for suggestions on how to date in these slightly strange times, and you’ll get a flavour for who they are.

It’s very much a burn after using app. And this is a message the team have gone to lengths to demonstrate through their commerce and PR campaign. You can buy effigies of their logo to burn, blow up or even bash in on your ‘delete day’. Sweet and delightfully self-aware. It feels like Hinge has got this love stuff in the bag/online shopping cart.

Their online love language: romantic.

The Language of (Online) Love

The Legacies


A few relationships. A few broken hearts. But ultimately a refreshing new attitude towards dating in the digital age. Also an excellent, albeit frustrating, new rhetoric. ‘Ghosting’, ‘haunting’ and even ‘zombieing’ – I may be wrong, but without Tinder would these even exist outside of Steven King novels?


A feminist, liberal approach to making connections. What’s more, a new way to make friends or colleagues. Even if you don’t meet ‘the one’, you might meet ‘the one for going to the gym with’. I mean, I won’t. The gym. Lol.


Something special. And if not, a great place to test out some of your best one-liners and worst first date stories.

Mairi Wilson
Mairi Wilson

Mairi is the copywriter half of one of our Creative teams here at Leith. She helps turn a brand’s message into a conversation.