Ad copy, sell copy, web copy, marketing collateral, internal communications, etc., copywriting is an often-overlooked element of your brand’s identity. Yet, writing is fundamental to great branding. Finding and honing your voice adds authenticity and uniqueness to your brand. Far beyond the run-of-the-mill press release boilerplate, successful copywriting is fundamental to your brand’s voice and ensures consistency in the way you communicate with your audience.
According to Express Writers, copywriting is the art and science of strategically crafting and publishing targeted, reader-focused words (copy) that get people to take some form of action.
SEO, social media, and creative design are all components of a good digital marketing strategy, but copywriting is the glue that binds all the pieces together. For example, take an ad on social media — every component of the ad has some form of copywriting. The words used in the call-to-action, the headline, and even the destination URL are all variations of copywriting that all took deliberate thought and time to successfully craft.
From a marketing perspective, copy takes many forms and has numerous purposes.
Ad copy is text that is used expressly for selling, as opposed to text used for any other purpose, such as informing or entertaining. (The Balance SMB). An example of this would be words that are used in Google ads or print advertisements.
Sales copy aims to persuade a reader to take a specific action — to buy a product, inquire about your service, join your email list, download a free report, follow you on social media, etc. (Enchanting Marketing). Think about words that are used on a call-to-action like “Buy Now” or “Download Infographic.”
Web copy is the core text that guides people through your website and tells them what they need to know. It’s what’s on the home page, the about page, the products and services pages, and all of the website’s other main pages. (Untamed Writing). Think of this as the digital narrative that exists for your brand.
Regardless of the type of copy, exceptional copywriting should engage the reader and persuade them to take action. Companies frequently gloss over copy because it’s not flashy and doesn’t require expensive software to create. The ability to find the combination of the best words and to consistently tell your brand’s story is integral to helping your brand grow.
Messaging is also core to copywriting. Your brand messaging should be consistent and evident in every piece of content. Consistent brand messaging will bolster credibility and trust. Any educated individual can string some words together into a recognizable sentence, but a gifted copywriter can create rhetorical art that will help sell your products and services for you.
You’ve got the messaging, voice and word choice down, but what about how the words actually look? Freelancer defines typography as the technique that you can use to arrange language in an organized manner. These characteristics can be the font type, size, the way the characters are spaced, and even the different types of typefaces.
Many times, font and typography are used interchangeably — though they’re related, they’re not the same. A typeface is a set of one or more fonts that share common design features. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, italicization, etc.
Typography is a powerful brand tool that should never detract from the message, but instead allow the reader to focus on the content itself — not obsess over how the content looks. It should go unnoticed and should feel comfortable to the reader. Typography in brand guidelines should establish a hierarchy within the content, utilizing different weights, sizes and colors to convey what content is of most importance to the reader.
A typical hierarchy can include:
An element of copy above the body that trumpets the important content to come. In any piece, it’s almost always the most frequently read copy. (Kranz Communications)
Text placed under a headline, often with a smaller font, which expands on what the headline says. (HubSpot)
Text in the main part of a piece of writing, as opposed to introductory text or conclusions. (The Balance SMB)
In addition to a hierarchy, good typographic design allows for a better user experience. Make it pleasant by ensuring all elements are well organized, clear and easily navigable. It’s simple to highlight key parts of the text to draw users’ attention and hitch them to the expected actions.
Correctly setting up a design hierarchy begins with using text size to prioritize information by importance, as well as using sufficient spacing to create an easy-to-scan structure. Other design techniques you can use to set-up a hierarchy include grouping related items together and including clear and definitive sections when applicable. As with many other aspects of good design, remember that white space is your friend.
Typography also provides unique opportunities to add contrast. One typeface may be used for a headline or title and another for text or body copy. As a general rule of thumb, choose one serif and one sans serif font to contrast, or go beyond and select a script or handwritten font to contrast against a serif or sans serif font. In addition to pairing contrasting typefaces, you can add additional contrast to designs by pairing contrasting colors.
All typographic elements, contrast, font choice, white space, font size, etc., allow your brand to have a unique personality. Is your brand conservative and formal, or cool and casual? Does your messaging dictate and inform, or entertain and provide value? Something as seemingly innocuous as a font can impact your brand’s identity and visual expression.
Effective copywriting and creative typography help create harmony and cohesion throughout your brand. Each is an element in your brand storytelling repertoire that helps to build awareness and recognition far beyond your logo and color palette.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Skaggs is the co-founder of BODDHI Branding, a creative agency with a vision to authentically and creatively construct stories to help your brand grow. Digital and social media, branding, recruitment and content strategy are all functions Chris has developed building teams, processes and strategies from the ground-up. Dedicated to giving back Chris also co-founded Leighton’s Gift, a non-profit with a mission of turning a tragedy into something positive. He also serves on the boards of a variety of different organizations. A natural storyteller, Chris’ work and experiences have been featured on CNN, Marketing Sherpa, Thrive Global, CBS Radio, Recruiter.com and Glassdoor. Get connected online, @chrislskaggs.