I’ve been helping a new luxury lifestyle brand to develop its tone of voice and positioning. The website has recently gone live and among other things it includes an article I wrote that redefines what Bath offers visitors – both now and 250 years ago. Read the piece here.
The Youth 100 is a survey of what brands young people like (and dislike) and why. It provides plenty of interesting insights, but three key points stood out for me.
Shakespeare was great at turning nouns into verbs. He turned the noun ‘dog’ into a beautifully expressive verb: ‘Destruction shall dog them at their heels’. Unfortunately, businesses today like doing the opposite.
It’s classic marketing advice: tell them about benefits, not just features. Sell them the sizzle, not the steak. Explain what it means to them and their lives, not just what it actually is. But is the classic advice true?
Negative messages are among the hardest to write. Things like letting people know their delivery is going to arrive late, or responding to a justified complaint. But there are plenty of ways you can make the recipient feel better, and plenty of ways to make them feel worse. Best to stick to the former. Here’s how.
A further thought on the dangers of negative messages, as explored in the last blog post. There we were talking about the difference it makes to rephrase a message in a positive way. But there’s more. Certain words have an extra powerful negative impact, and it’s worth sensitising your awareness of them.
I once once wrote some copy for a recruitment company that went something like: ‘You don’t want a long list of the wrong people. You want the right person first time.’ The MD told me it had to change. It turned out he had previously been a professional hypnotist.
When I’m working with someone to improve some copy they’ve written – for example a marketing manager at a medium-sized business – the question I’m most likely to ask is: ‘What are you actually saying here?’ Because people have a terrible habit of obscuring the message as soon as they sit down to write it.
Bristol design agency Robson Dowry have just launched their new website and, unusually for a design agency, the copy takes the lead. I’m particularly pleased because I wrote the site’s content. It’s an interesting example of focusing very hard on what you should be saying, and then saying it calmly and clearly.
So many organisations seem to love headlines like this: ‘Helping you out’, ‘Putting you in control’, ‘Working for a better tomorrow’, ‘Giving something back’, ‘Operating on autopilot’ (OK, I lied about the last one).
Why do they love them so much?