• Paul Rakov

How You Write Is Not How You Speak

Recently, a friend and professional colleague gave a tip to her Facebook followers. It read:

Copywriting Tip

Good copy isn't grammatically correct.

It's conversational, casual and fun.

If you can talk, you can write good copy.

At first, I completely disagreed with this assertion. The English Major in me rebelled, proclaiming that her advice is exactly what is wrong with the writing produced by Millennials and others these days. The lament of so many of my clients is, "None of these kids know how to write anything longer than 140 characters!"

But then, I remembered that she is very good at what she does, helping artists promote their work through creative copywriting used in blogs, web copy, etc. It gave me pause to reconsider my adamant objection.

Suddenly, one word jumped out at me: conversational. That's it! With that one word, she and I both could be correct.

Who is Listening?

None of us speak the same way to everyone. How you address your boss is likely far different than how you chat with your co-workers. You don't speak to your parents the way you do to your best friend. When giving a presentation, you alter how you deliver your message based on factors such as who is the audience, how much time you have and your intended goals. In fact, if the presentation you give is the same every time, it's probably not very effective.

After considering this for a while, I realized that for my friend's audience, her advice would be sound. Many of her clients are recording artists, so it would stand to reason that copy written by them should reflect their style, tenor and characteristics. In other words, conversational, casual and fun. However, for many of my clients, this would be exactly the wrong tact to take and would be detrimental to their brand.

It's All in Your Voice

It all boils down to your brand's voice. Defining that voice is important because it's how your company's core values are communicated. Imagine if your bank's communication was casual and fun. Sure, you might think it cute but you might also question the seriousness in which they are looking after your money! That's not the level of confidence they likely want from their customers.

When was the last time you analyzed your company's voice? It's a worthwhile exercise to do every few years. A brand audit is a good tool for that. Through this, you will find out if what YOU think your brand is matches how your employees are communicating it AND how your customers are perceiving it. In my experience, there is almost always at least one surprising result from this examination.

You may discover that your voice is indeed conversational, casual and fun...and full of grammatical errors (though don't get me started on that last point!). What you will know is that your voice matches your brand and it can then be communicated consistently through all mediums, including your employees.

If you need help defining your brand voice, let me know. We are happy to help!

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