Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 | 1 comment

5 Reasons Brand Strategists Should Start Out as Copywriters

5 Reasons Brand Strategists Should Start Out as Copywriters

In a faster, more integrated marketing world, a brand strategist needs to take on many roles, marshal multiple talents and be able to bridge the difficult divide between a concrete strategic foundation and the inevitably amorphous (read: human) communication required to bring any brand fully to life.   Unfortunately, even as brand strategists expand their skill sets beyond the traditional realm of insights development, one talent seems to remain underrepresented in brand strategy resumes:  conceptual copywriting.  Allow me (the copywriter-creative-director-turned-brand-strategist) to make a case for why branding firms should recruit and develop strategists out of the creative ranks. Your strategy is the big idea: it takes idea people to develop it. I remember my first big branding project when I worked at BBDO New York:  helping reposition a then-stagnant, diffuse General Electric. Now, BBDO is an ad agency, and in those days turned its nose up at “below the line” projects such as brand identity work and the like – but it grabbed the branding reins when it came to...

Read More

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 | 0 comments

Portfolio or Manifesto: What Should a Brand Strategist & Writer Show?

Portfolio or Manifesto: What Should a Brand Strategist & Writer Show?

    In this necessarily hybrid, hyphenated, integrated marketing world, it’s hard to know what a copywriter-creative-director-cum-brand-strategist-and-storyteller should show as a portfolio.  Of course, the marketing world still likes a visualized vita, and yet this one should be more than just show with no tell.  It should reflect a more strategic, less gratuitous, approach to the ultimate creative expression of a brand strategy – and also a more creative take on developing a brand platform. Fortunately, that combination is exactly what I bring: Creativity for the formulation of brand basics and An acute strategic understanding  for the creative expression of brands My downloadable PDF portfolio attempts to encapsulate that crossover of talents (note: it includes a resume at the end).  In addition, you’ll find samples of my work throughout this website/ blog, offered up Youtility-style as content first, and self-promotion second: My brand positioning process “The 3-Step Brand Positioning Process & Workshop” an e-Book tailoring the process for small- to medium-size companies My Branding Magazine articles (where I am a Contributing...

Read More

Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 | 0 comments

3 Things Copywriters and Content Writers Can Teach Each Other

3 Things Copywriters and Content Writers Can Teach Each Other

  Ad copy is bad.  Content creation is good.  Advertising copywriters are hipper-than-thou hypemiesters. Content writers are earnest brand storytellers. So goes the professional profiling game, at least as I often observe it in the content marketing community, and  it comes mostly at the expense of effective overall integrated marketing. I submit that ad copy expertise not only can forward the cause of brand storytelling, but it needs to, particularly as content marketing becomes more and more involved with the “paid game (as alluded to by, among others, David Armano of Edelman Digital when I interviewed him for Branding Magazine, and which is also part of the mushrooming “content shock” conversation incited recently by Mark Schaefer.) Hospitals need brand storytellers more than most Case in point: some new ads, which serve as the leading edge of a content-campaign for Northwestern Medicine. (Yes, I was the copywriter for many of the ads, though I am not the campaign’s originator.) I still need to ask the good folks at Northwestern just...

Read More

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 | 0 comments

So, how do I write for Hummingbird? (Hint: You don’t.)

So, how do I write for Hummingbird? (Hint: You don’t.)

  What does Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm – heralded as the biggest search engine change in a dozen years – change for content writers?  To paraphrase the growing chorus of my SEO betters, it changes everything.  And nothing. It’s changing everything in the same way that Jay Baer is trying to tell you that everything in marketing needs to shift from sales hype to human help.  And it’s changing nothing, in that the general advice, from Google on down, has been and continues to be “concentrate on creating quality content.”   In other words, Hummingbird has not brought a change in direction for content creators, but it has brought us much, much farther down Google’s intended road. 4 Ways to Make Your Hummingbird-Friendly Content Fly This isn’t meant as a “tips and tricks on writing content” post, as trickery is just the opposite of what Google now rewards.  Instead, I’d like to offer what we should all now offer – a few useful ideas. Four key thoughts pop to mind as...

Read More

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 | 3 comments

Tough love for copywriters: If your tagline is just a tag, it’s D.O.A.

Tough love for copywriters: If your tagline is just a tag, it’s D.O.A.

Copywriters and creative pundits of every stripe weighed in last week on a Adweek article, The Death of the Tagline.  The headline was a bit of a misleading come-on (and a clichéd one at that), which led many follow-on commentators to rush to the defense of sloganeering, when the author seemed intent on just getting us to reconsider the venerable tag, opining that “…the way we use taglines should shift from making declarative statements…” and instead “…issue invitations [that] appeal more to people’s current connection-based sensibilities.”  Fair enough, but not far enough.  That is, the author stops short of entertaining the nature of a great “tagline” and its holistic use. Tags go on your toes at the morgue; themes enliven entire businesses. First of all, let me pick a bone with the term “tagline” itself.  As a diminished synonym for “slogan” (derived from the 14th century Scottish word for “battle cry”), it is by its own description a word or phrase – or at best a catchphrase ­– that gets...

Read More

Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 | 3 comments

7 Simple Steps to a Good Creative Brief

7 Simple Steps to a Good Creative Brief

How to create effective creative briefs: a quick Q&A format I like to think I’m an effective freelance copywriter and content creator because I am a strategic thinker – I know how to create messages that are on target, on task and infused with the brand personality and voice.  There’s just one catch:  the target, task, personality, voice and a range of other strategic considerations needs to be defined before I or anyone else can coherently – let alone memorably – communicate it. Brand Strategy + Creative Brief = Effective Copywriting and Design When I ran my own agencies – both bricks and mortar and virtual – maintaining strategic focus was never a problem. It was understood as one of an agency’s key tasks.  As a creative freelancer, however, I am frequently surprised by the lack of strategic preparation evident in prospective clients’ requests. When I ask, “Do you have a brand strategy? Is there a creative brief for this project?”  the reply as often as not is “Oh no, there’s no...

Read More

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 | 0 comments

How a Tourism Copywriter Can Take You Away from the Ordinary

How a Tourism Copywriter Can Take You Away from the Ordinary

  A tourism copywriter  – particularly working for smaller destinations – is often expected to make every member of the convention and visitors bureau (CVB) equally exciting and prominent.  This popular “something for everyone” (non)strategy, while understandable from an organizational standpoint, works against real differentiation.  It leaves you decidedly in the ordinary.   It also wastes the opportunity to connect with both with prospective visitors’ heads (their rational assessment of the functional consideration of a trip) and their hearts (their longing to go someplace special). Vacation Decisions are Both Rational and Emotional The kitchen sink approach to tourism advertising fights that more complex reality of how consumers decide on, and experience, vacations (or anything, for that matter). The Journal of Travel Research offers this apt understatement:  “Destinations are more likely to be successful if they recognize the experiential qualities of their offerings.” A well-rounded brand strategy, plus a good tourism copywriter and creative team, will be able to help you project a sense of the overall experience – not just...

Read More

Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 | 1 comment

Dude Writes Like a Lady (Antebellum): The Secret to Writing Headlines

Dude Writes Like a Lady (Antebellum): The Secret to Writing Headlines

For all the attention headline writing gets, particularly in the world of blogging, there is a certain sameness to it: “How to blah blah blah” “7 Reasons Yada Yada Yada…”  “10 Sure-Fire…”  “The Art of…” “These 5 Formulas…” Yes, there are formulas for how to write great headlines, but… If you want to learn how to write blog post headlines like those industry standards, there are better teachers than I (like Copyblogger, whose series on writing headlines includes all of those search-garnering gems above).  I encourage you, however, to branch out, optimizing headlines for humans, and not just search engines, by giving them all the life of… a country song.   3 Things Your Headline Should Have in Common with a Country Song A successful blog depends not only on SEO copywriting – or “find-ability” – but also person-to-person chemistry, the kind that creates “share-ability.”  In this regard I side with the writers who, while always conscious of the requirements of search, first and foremost write to make an...

Read More

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 | 0 comments

How Not to Write a Print Ad

How Not to Write a Print Ad

5 “Dont’s” on how to write a print ad, courtesy of Apple I am an Apple fanboy from way back and have long had an office and house full of Macs, iPhones, iPads, etcetera. But when I see Apple advertising sink as far into the muck of self-referential mediocrity as their new print and TV ads do, well, I can’t help but worry that their fortunes (and mine as a shareholder) may be sinking, too. Print copywriter – and clients – beware! On the bright side, the new Apple ads  provide a striking illustration of how to write a print ad – or, rather, how not to write one.  Here are five handy “don’ts” to observe if you don’t want to end up with strictly so-what-who-cares advertising (or any other kind of marketing communications). 1)  Don’t use your brand strategy statement as ad copy Please remember: your brand strategy statement is a foundational document, to be used to guide and inform your advertising – but not typically to serve...

Read More