Why Copywriters Aren’t Ruled By Grammar
A previous post of mine mentioned how copywriters are anti-robot language when it comes to trying to persuade people to believe in a product, service or brand.
Good copywriting is about humans talking to other humans. Humans that share the values of your company.
You can guarantee that the most successful, memorable of marketing or advertising campaigns have involved fun, effective copywriting that reach out to people’s core beliefs in the most human way. But how can language have this effect?
For one, if you look around, you will spot that copywriters aren’t afraid of contractions. ‘Don’t’, ‘can’t’ and ‘wouldn’t’ are generally favoured to ‘do not’, ‘can not’ and ‘would not’.
Unless of course ‘do not’ would achieve the outcome wanted out of sharing a message, due to its more authoritative nature (just as standard English is).
But most of the time, ‘don’t’ will reach people much easier. Because it’s what we hear most in natural, every day speech.
The point is, a decent copywriter only chooses words laden with meaning to contribute to the whole objective of the campaign or project. And they mostly do this by trying to appeal to people’s daily experiences of the world.
And guess what? Language plays a huge part in most of our lives. In fact, it is core to our identities.
So, if people are hearing contractions and starting sentences with ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘because’ on a daily basis, then they are more likely to be engaged by texts that use this type of language too.
This is also perfect for maintaining a positive brand image. Why? Because it’s more conversational and natural sounding.
This will make your brand shout sincere, warm and confident in what you stand for. You won’t come across as trying to make up for any downfalls.
See, it always comes back round to brand values and the identity you project.
Other things copywriting avoids that plain business writing doesn’t:
- Sub-clauses: We tend to limit sub-clauses to just two parts separated by a comma or hyphen, if any at all
- Over-long sentences: the shorter the sentence, the better
- Pointless adverbs, verbs and nouns: Incredibly complex? Why not just complex? Delivering results? Why not simply letting people see results?
- Semi-colons: people like simple sentence structures for ease of reading
- Jargon: however, do use it if you only want to attract an extremely specific market niche who understand the particular jargon
- Passive sentences: The active sentence ‘you can find us at the following address‘ sounds much friendlier than ‘Aspect Copywriting can be found at the following address‘. Pronouns are a copywriter’s friend.
Despite all of this, it’s important to remember that copywriters are not anti-grammar (hey, ‘are not’ seemed to fit better for purpose here than ‘aren’t’, who knew?) And all this doesn’t mean we aren’t excellent grammarians, either.
Many of us are involved in proofreading and copy-editing, and understand the importance of accurate grammar and spelling. For instance, it’s best not to start a sentence with ‘and’ in a CV. And Poundland’s slogan still pains me (have a look at the shopfront for yourself and you may notice what I mean).
It’s just that copywriters understand how there’s a time and a place for everything. We understand that some ‘rules’ can be broken without negative consequence.
We understand that contractions and passive sentences are often more effective when trying to get people to act than if we were to adopt perfect standard English.
We just want to communicate with people, and we aren’t afraid to communicate as people.