Archive for the ‘Life & words’ Category

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.


With ads like these… no wonder England has struggled

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This advert appeared in the build up to the World Cup:

england expects photo

If it was being a bit ironic that would be OK. But it’s not. The pose of the guy in the England shirt shows you that. The people behind this ad really don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying ENGLAND EXPECTS… A FREE TV.


How our words reveal us

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Last weekend was the Masters golf tournament in the US. I find golf strangely relaxing and addictive to watch. I think it’s partly because some very chilled friends of my parents used to love golf and when we went to visit them (always, impossibly, on warm, sunny days) they would have the golf burbling gently away on the TV in the background, so for me it’s a signifier of relaxation and sunshine and a lack of worries.

Anyway, I was watching the golf late in the evening, a little fascinated to see Tiger Woods back in the spotlight, and I saw him being interviewed briefly on a couple of days running. Very revealing, especially from this most guarded of celebrities.


A different way of seeing words

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Here’s a neat visual tool (particularly good for those people who don’t like reading sentences).

Wordle generates ‘word clouds’ from a page of content or a whole site (see below). The clouds are rather lovely to look at. Your eye wanders around them musing over the words.

It’s an intriguing alternative to reading sentences, actually.


Why the South West grows creative businesses

Friday, March 19th, 2010

What is it about the South West? It has the second largest concentration of creative businesses outside London.