How the textual elements of an ad support the design process and compel customers to act
Get them right and they sell dreams, get them wrong and you could get sued. As much as visuals grab people and assault their senses, it’s the written (and spoken word) that often does the job. But as any communicator knows, it’s not just how it’s delivered but how it’s received that makes the difference between ‘roger that’ and ‘epic fail’.
The quote above, by Voltaire pretty much sums up what words can bring to the table, but if you’d like to know more, have a seat…
In advertising, the person in charge of text (or copy) is the Copywriter. Not a very inventive name, but, to clarify, it’s not the person who draws © symbols on stuff. Anyway, the copywriter’s responsibility is to ensure there is complete coherence and cohesion between the text of an ad and its visual aspects. In English: “A copywriter must carefully choose words that support images to convey a message to an audience; words that connect with people and make them act.”
The words used must have a certain quality though, for the final piece of advertising to be considered effective. That quality is persuasiveness. With it, ad copy transforms, and then performs.
Then there’s the bit about HOW the copy is delivered. Typography is the visual component of the actual written word. Think font types and sizes, the space occupied by text, layout on the page etc. Typography boosts the appeal of the words, by giving character to the letters. This is evident on book and magazine covers, where the text’s appearance can help increase the appeal of a book, and get it sold. Appearance aside, every piece of text, from the most mundane like a user manual or a tiny Classified ad, to epic TV commercial scripts, requires skill to craft it in such a way that it connects with the viewer, listener or reader.
Here’s the part where we casually drop some knowledge, to make the ad world a better place:
- Write punchy: living text is often bold, conversational and short
- Write positive: even an obituary or closure notice can be light. The world has enough crap — don’t add to it
- Write with #purpose: for any content to be effective, it must be relevant, to the target and the brand
Oh and for garnish:
- Go easy on the humour. It’s not about being funny, but knowing when to be funny.
You don’t write copy, you speak it. That is the only way you’ll get anyone to buy it.
Point #3 is the secret to writing compellingly. If you know the intention behind the words, you can then craft them in a way that they do what they are supposed to. The secret weapon here is the CTA. That’s ‘call-to-action’ for those who don’t know. That’s the instruction to act, the part of the text that gets people to do something like call, subscribe, click, visit, buy etc. Knowing which CTA to use can add to the overall success of the message. Choose wisely.
Because sharing is caring, we’ll leave you with some quotable words, that you can use as a guide when crafting copy:
‘You don’t write copy, you speak it. That is the only way you’ll get anyone to buy it.’