We copywriters are often miracle workers.
I’ve written for cars I never drove, audio systems I never heard, beverages I never drank and even places I’ve never been to. I suppose it’s the same for pretty much every copywriter out there.
The days of getting up close and personal with the product are truly gone.
I remember when I started out as a novice – which was far too long ago if you’re wondering – that clients actually sent their products to the office so we may check, test, use or just fiddle around with them.
Services are a bit tricky. It would be impractical to get into a huge debt just because you need to write for a new mortgage plan. But clients still took the effort to send over market insights, strategic reviews, target market analysis, competitive analysis and the works.
These days however, our work really does require us to create something out of nothing, especially in the last decade. Google has become the primary source of information on virtually any product or service. ‘Just Google it’ is a phrase that now replaces ‘do you have enough information?’.
While I often admire a client’s confidence in our resourcefulness, how are we as marketing writers to develop a unique tone-of-voice based on materials sourced from Google? Indeed, Google is a great resource, but it is a vastly generic resource. And when the work delivered is not insightful or outstanding enough, the finger-pointing begins.
But there have been bright sparks. As a freelancer, I’ve met clients whom are genuinely focused on creating communications that are compelling, insightful and truly unique.
Well how are they different you ask? Here you go…
Their brand is their lifeblood, they live and breathe it. They are intrinsically wired to the growth and development of their brand. They care enough to provide relevant, insightful material along with reasonable lead time to exhaust all possibilities.
They are Transparent
Every aspect of their business open to scrutiny. They give copywriters no-holds-barred access to the inner workings of their organisation, creating the possibility of uncovering unique business traits that can result in the much coveted ‘aha’ moment.
They know the ins and outs of their business, and willing to work to translate that knowledge into a solid brief. You won’t hear the words Catchy, Punch or Juicy from these guys. They know what they want as much as knowing what they don’t want.
Yes, I admit it. The thing that I dislike most about my profession as a copywriter is coming up with names.
For me, names are personal. Think about it this way, would you ask another person to name your newborn baby?
You created it, you name it. And I believe the same analogy should apply to companies, products and brands as well. The person who created them should be the ones naming them.
Indeed, we copywriters can help name your product or service. But there will always be a sense of disconnect when we – a third party – attempt to create a name for something that holds many intrinsic values.
I always suggest to my clients to give naming a shot. And sometimes they find it very difficult, even when they themselves have incepted the product or service. So you can imagine how difficult it would be for me?
However, nothing is easy. So here are 5 key considerations to naming that might help:
1. Sensory Appeal
Ideally, a name should be able to activate any one, or better yet all five senses. A name that people can see, smell, taste, feel or hear subconsciously creates a sensory experience that’s memorable. A brand name like Apple activates all senses.
2. Service is Serious
The game changes slightly when it comes to naming a service though. People expect services to be credible, trustworthy and professional, and a name should reflect these qualities. Don’t ask me how.
3. Be Uncommon
Habituation is a human trait where we are desensitised by all the common things around us. You name needs to rise above the clutter or people will tune-out. Do you really want to be another ‘Pro-something’ or Expert-something’ or ‘something-Solutions’?
4. Break It Down
Break any names that you come up with into syllabuses. Read out aloud every syllabus to make sure nothing sounds unsavoury. This is especially useful in Malaysia, where multiple languages are spoken. I once saw a Bengkel Tah Yik… seriously!
These days, securing the URL you want can be a real pain. So make sure your name list is domain checked as early as possible because you will surely need to have a website. Sites like www.namestation.com is worth a try too.
If all else fails, do what I did. I just used my name for my business. It may not be the most ideal name, but it’s a true reflection of me.
You know, advertising isn’t always about big budgets, kick-ass creatives and mind-boggling strategies.
Sometimes, all it takes a little bit of genuine effort to keep customers happy.
Have you heard about an American restaurant chain called Red Robin? Neither have I, until I read about how they created loads of positive media attention for just USD$11.50 (about RM34.70).
Noticing a heavily pregnant customer at his restaurant, the manager of Red Robin, North Carolina did this:
Yes, this was just an employee making a positive gesture, something that is severely lacking in Malaysian restaurants that for sure.
But the customer was so appreciative of the gesture that she decided to tell the world. That little piece of receipt went social and then viral, and ultimately made national headlines in the US.
You might think could have happened at any restaurant chain in America. Not really. Red Robin’s employees practice a culture called ‘Unbridled Act’, which encourages positive behavior.
And apparently, this wasn’t the first discount given at random to customers. They’ve been doing it for a while, it just so happens that this particular gesture made the news, probably because of the oh-so-sweet personal message.
Intentional or not, it worked. And worked in a way that even a big budget 30-sec TVC or a print ad with a catchy headline will never emulate.
Sometimes, it’s just about the little things. You know?