Archive for the ‘Life & words’ Category

The power of the unexpected emotional word

Friday, August 1st, 2014

I received a text message a couple of days ago. It contained the word ‘terrifying’. That’s not what I expect to read in my inbox, and certainly not in a text from an organisation. It had my attention instantly.


The global significance of Bristol and Bath’s hi-tech and creative cluster

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Wordbrain found itself in the Bath and Bristol area not because I knew there was a cluster of creative and digital industries here but because I liked the idea of living in this part of the world. But it’s become clear over the years that there’s an extraordinary array of hi-tech and creative businesses round here.


Call that a slogan? It’s a disaster

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

This just beggars belief. ‘Hardworking Britain Better Off’. Sorry, could you say that again? Actually, please don’t.


The Yes campaign’s secret weapon

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

It’s occurred to me that the campaign against Scottish independence has had a problem right from the start, and that lies in the wording of the referendum question.


Brilliant language basics from the Oatmeal

Friday, May 4th, 2012

The Oatmeal explains how to use a semicolon (the most feared punctuation on earth), how not to misuse ‘literally’ (please may the whole world hear), and how to spell a bunch of words that people keep misspelling. Funny and (even better) clear and memorable.

The Oatmeal on Grammar.

How not to use social media for marketing

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Here’s a hilarious example of how a company’s social media campaign can be derailed by the very medium they tried to exploit. It’s a warning and a useful lesson.


Rupert Murdoch and the problem of sincerity in copywritten copy

Monday, July 18th, 2011

The ad that News Corporation placed in British newspapers at the weekend was intriguing. It posed as a letter from Rupert Murdoch but read like what I call copywritten copy. Like something carefully composed, calculated, tuned and polished by a professional writer. Indeed, by a writer used to selling things.


What’s in a name?

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Finding a resonant name for an organisation or product is a powerful marketing tool. It can position you, attract attention, define your target audience and help establish your values and attitude. But only if it’s not a lie. (more…)

Why keeping it simple works best

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Here’s an interesting insight. Adding features doesn’t always make a product – or a website – more popular, even though it’s often an obsession among designers and managers. In fact simplicity and ease of use is usually the way to appeal to a mainstream audience. More usually isn’t more.


The world’s first strapline?

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.

That was Julius Caesar’s snappy slogan, sent back to the Senate in Rome to announce his victory over Pharnaces II. It was so memorable that people still know it by heart today. It uses alliteration, assonance and rhyme, and it’s compressed into just three words. It’s majestically assertive, and it’s unarguable since it presents objective fact – but presents it with poetic power and immense authority.