I once told a friend I was interesting in copywriting. He responded by saying he never knew I was into law.
There, in a nutshell, you have it. Copywriting – as opposed to its legal sound-alike, copyrighting – is an oft-misunderstood area of communications; an area that emphasizes the cleaning up of cluttered verbiage.
So, what exactly is copywriting? It’s words (‘copy’) carefully crafted to convey a desired feeling and tone. Copywriters meticulously select every word you read on advertisements, brochures, directions, and websites. Unlike the long-form writing favoured by authors and journalists, copywriting is typically short in length and audience-focused.
Many definitions of copywriting lean heavily on its role as a marketing tool. This conflation comes as no surprise considering that many of the most memorable pieces of copywriting are advertising slogans; Just Do It, Taste The Rainbow, and A Diamond Is Forever need little explanation. Here are a few of my personal favourite bylines:
- Do one thing really, really well: Steam Whistle Brewing knocks it out of the park with this memorable line, capturing the brand’s product quality, work ethic, and focused marketing. This is really, really good copy.
- Your Better Starts Here: Sport Chek connects on an emotional level with their recent rebrand. Using only four words, this clean and tidy slogan speaks directly to the audience’s drive for self-improvement. Score.
- Globally Yours: Voted best airline in Europe in 2011, Turkish Airlines nails it with only two words. One for each of their major points of differentiation: Unparalleled service and unmatched destinations. Can’t get much cleaner that.
The growing importance of two-way digital communication notwithstanding, there still exists a need for punchy, one-way copy. A quick Google search yields numerous advertising copywriting jobs, professionals, and programs across the country.
Although often understood to be analogous with advertising, the scope of copywriting is not limited to catchy slogans.Brochures, flyers, and websites also require damn fine copywriting to capture the precious attention of readers.Corporate blogs and content marketing are other communications platforms in need of copywriting that succinctly embodies organizational culture and speaks directly to the target audience. Finally, social media channels, especially microblogging sites such as Twitter, act as vehicles to convey strategic messaging through clean and carefully selected copy. On these platforms, every word counts – literally.
- Keep it clean. Copywriting is all about simplicity.
- Know the message, inside and out.
- Know where and how your audience communicates.
- Connect the message to the audience in a concise and creative way.
- “Easy reading is damned hard writing.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne
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