Updates. Ideas. Rants. Techniques. Opinions. Blog.

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Why These Tone of Voice Guidelines Are Taking Ages

I’m writing some tone of voice guidelines and, honestly, they are taking forever.

I know what you’re thinking. How long does it take to write ‘friendly and honest’ in a nice font? We have the idea of guidelines as instructive and, providing the actual development has been done, summing it all up should be simple.

But, actually, it’s not the guidelines themselves that are taking a long time. It’s everything that comes before them.

Telling people how to write is the easy part. The catch is in telling them why.

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Why Microsoft’s Copywriters Need To Be Better Liars

Empathy’s a powerful tool.

But it’s frustrating when it’s not used intelligently. You find that frustrating, don’t you? I know how you feel.

I’ve worked on lots of copywriting projects which demanded a touch of sympathy. A friendly voice that understands your financial predicament, or shows the warmth of a family GP.

Of course, empathy isn’t always real. It’s slight of hand, a trick we use to make copy connect with people. In short, it’s one of the irresistible lies we tell.

But, as I found out when dealing with Microsoft’s Live Support, some people aren’t very good liars.

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With Love From A Freelance Copywriter

Let’s talk about love. Do you love your girlfriend? Your husband? Your children?

Bread?

I recently saw a lorry delivering the regal bread Kingsmill. I noticed the big photo and pondered the idea that it might just contain one giant loaf of bread. But, more relevantly to a blog about being a freelance copywriter, I noticed the copy.

It said – ‘Love Bread. Love Kingsmill.’

And it got me thinking about my relationship with bread, and in turn the choice of words that we use when selling.

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Copywriting With Lies

Truth is a funny thing, isn’t it?

It’s only natural for a copywriter to think that hard facts are the way to sell products and services. Sometimes, honesty is the best policy – after all, nobody likes to be deceived.

Or do they?

Think of the millions of books sold every year, the hours that people spend watching TV drama, or the impossibility of getting a good seat in the cinema on a Friday night. People love stories. People love to be deceived in the right way.

And that’s fortunate, because copywriters are by trade deceptive.

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Bad Copywriting Kills Brands

For all of the insults levied against the advertising industry over time, there are few copywriters that would like to be known as killers.

It’s just not a great reputation to bring to the world of marketing!

But bad copywriting is like the lethal injection for a brand. Whether it happens quickly and painlessly or over the course of several months, substandard copywriting sucks the life from an organisation until there is nothing left to see.

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