Writing Wednesdays is a series on writing tips and tricks that are published on Wednesdays. Not necessarily every Wednesday. But Wednesdays.
There’s this group that I follow on social media, called Brilliant Ads. These guys are dedicated to featuring “The most creative, unique, controversial, remarkable and powerful ads, signs and marketing related things from around the world”. Wonderful source of inspiration!
A few days ago, they featured this gem from Speedos:
“Armed and dangerless” – that’s a cute spoof of the popular expression “armed and dangerous”! But imagine removing the accompanying picture of the baby with inflatable armbands. “Armed and dangerless” would fall flat, wouldn’t it? The ad’s humour only works because its two main elements, the copy and the visual, were so right for each other.
There’s a lesson for content writers and copywriters here. Too often, we get caught up with hitting all the right notes in our writing. Have we highlighted the product benefits? What’s the call-to-action? Are we concise enough? We focus so much on the words we write, because, well, writing is our job.
But in the digital world, words don’t exist on their own on a blank white web page. There are many other elements as well, like visuals, audio, and information architecture. All of them must be congruous with each other and contribute to creating certain vibes or emotions in users. Yep, I’m talking about the wider user experience.
User experience is important because, when done right, users will be inspired to take the action we want them to. Speedo was going for lighthearted humour that might illicit some chuckles and perhaps sharing. An activist group might want to evoke outrage so as to rally people into action. A government might want to foster a sense of national pride in order to bring diverse communities together. Ultimately, the most successful brands don’t just sell products or services. They sell intangibles like aspirations, comfort, identity, and sense of community, for people to experience and buy into.
That’s the big picture that all of us digital creatives work towards.
Back to the task of writing. Don’t just think of the words in isolation; consider how it fits with its surrounding elements. It’s your responsibility to ask questions like:
- What are the accompanying images, if any?
- If your copy goes into a landing page, microsite, eNewsletter, etc. is there a mockup you can refer to?
- Who are the users, and what do we want them to feel and do?
Even if you’re writing long-form content like articles or blog posts, where the words rule, think of how you can write and structure it with the reader in mind.
- Are there walls of text that might be hard to read on a mobile phone?
- Can some of those words be presented in bullet points or lists?
- Do you even need to use so many words, might some parts be better packaged in infographic form?
You don’t just write. You’re helping to create experiences that people love and want to belong to. Isn’t that something to be proud of?
Image source: Brilliant Ads