Let’s face it – a big one makes it easier for everyone involved.
It can provide a handy shortcut for decision makers on whether they want to start a relationship or not. If you know that other people are satisfied, you can be more confident than ever that your freelance copywriter will satisfy you too.
But a big brand just isn’t the be all and end all. Size isn’t everything.
So why are so many copywriters eager to pull out their brands and measure them side by side?
Too Much Disclosure
I recently read a great post on Alastaire Allday’s blog, titled NDA Not OK: Are NDAs Harming Your Freelance Reputation?.
Alastaire makes the simple point that sometimes, not being able to tell people about your biggest brand-name clients is just not worth the financial gain. Every job is a stepping-stone to the next project.
The truth is that I don’t have much to add. NDAs are not ideal, but I try to recoup the value of lost marketing potential in financial terms. That makes it fair for everyone – the agency or company in question get secrecy, and I increase my revenue.
But what I found most interesting is the way in which copywriters use brands as an indicator of work. One of Alastaire’s friends, working in a full-time copywriting role for an agency, took objection to the idea that he did the same as a freelance copywriter. He laughed at the notion of writing copy for anything less than a multinational household name. He had this idea that the work he did was more worthwhile.
Quite simply, he was wrong.
A Tale of Two Copywriters
Let’s look at a case study.
Copywriter A is working at an agency full-time, dealing with household names that even your gran would recognise. Meanwhile, Copywriter B is freelance, occasionally working with big brands through agency deals, but mostly helping lesser-known businesses to communicate with their customers and, ultimately, sell things.
Copywriter A can talk about brands with no non-disclosure agreement. So he does.
If anything, he’s irritating with it, constantly going on about Fortune 500 companies and how he is in-tune with multinational brand identities. Of course, they’re brand identities that have been well-established by now.
Copywriter B, on the other hand, can’t talk about brands. He can’t name drop. All he can do is talk about businesses you’ve never heard of, where the name won’t convince you of anything.
He can’t depend on the size of what he has.
He just depends on the work he has done.
It’s What You Do With It That Counts
This business is all about the work. Big name brands put out terrible work all the time – but I bet those copywriters and creative directors involved still leap at the chance to drop a name into every conversation.
You can forget who the work is for, and just look at the work itself.
Don’t get me wrong – I would love to do the next Apple campaign or hear the stylish voice over I’ve written going out on a prime-time TV advert slot. But if those opportunities came my way, my priority would stay the same – work that’s good, whoever it is written for.
Small or big doesn’t matter. All I care about is that it’s perfectly formed.