If you’re wondering about the title, hopefully it will become clearer later on.
Part of our comprehensive briefing process is to ask our clients what kind of copy they already like. While this question may seem trivial, it is in fact one of the most important questions a content creator can ever ask.
But why is it important?
Well, firstly, not only does it give us a clue about your personal tastes, your ideas about good and bad, the extent of your exposure to creative content (that is, insight into your “subjectivity”) – it also maps out how we’ll approach your copywriting project. Examples act as a ‘style guide’ for us – significantly narrowing the pool of tonal options available to us, and avoiding any potential pitfalls of writing in a style that doesn’t connect to you or your audience. Occasionally, there is some disparity between your personal preferences and what will best speak to your audience, but we can only get to that revelation by being shown examples of writing that you like.
Often times’ clients have a very difficult time distinguishing between brand XYZ’s ethos, ethics, and practices, and their ACTUAL copy. As copywriters, we’re not often privy to the way people run their business – that’s not our role – and nor should it be. We ARE wordsmiths – nothing more, nothing less. That means we are only ever looking at words, and how words have been put together on a page, and if the key messages have been executed thoughtfully. If you’re an arsehole – frankly, that’s none of our business.
Time and again, we come across people who are unable to make the distinction between a brand’s good copy, and their bad practices. While we might completely disagree with a business’s ethics, practices, the way they treat their employees, etc., we are still able to recognise when their marketing, messaging, and copywriting is great.
Take as another example; political rhetoric. We may take offence at the stance, policies, and positions of a politician, we may even dislike them and find their views repulsive, but we also know when what they’re saying has been well-written and crafted by a professional. It should be possible to ‘hate the messenger but still love (the skill used) to create the message’.
To really drive the point home, and to use an extreme example, if the mob had a website, and that website just happened to be supremely cool, with the best copy we have ever seen, we would hope that showing you the website as an example, wouldn’t be taken to mean tacit approval of the methods and practices utilised to run an organised crime syndicate. We would just be saying, “check out this copywriting.” Forget that it’s been written for the mob, and just bathe in its wordy goodness. You can do that with their suits, right? You can admire their attire, without approving of what they get up to.
And while we have been known to say “no” to certain projects and clients, because we don’t want to write for people who we find morally jarring, we would also never discredit someone’s copywriting as bad, just because they are!
Good copy is good copy no matter what company it fronts. In reality, everyone does this all the time. For example, we all know Apple haven’t always acted with integrity, but not to appreciate their marketing just because you don’t like their manufacturing ethics in China, is to confuse the issue and to entirely miss the point.
So final words on this subject…When you see copy, try and see it in isolation. It’s more advantageous to see it that way anyway, as then you can realise how the style and tone could work across quite a few different sectors, and it will help you appreciate it for the carefully crafted piece of work that it is.