Rules about rules

Lesson Eight (i): Break all the rules.

I met up with Molly from We All Need Words today. She had some lovely stuff to say about coming sideways at copywriting from other industries, a lot of which I could identify with, but some of the things that rang truest boiled down to one command; break the rules.

The process of copy production can be mired in structure and restrictions. Some of it comes from a good place, but a lot of that process gets in the way of actually doing the job.

With a confidence in core brand messages you’ll learn how to shrug off the parts of the process that get in the way of creating – and publishing – the copy that best suits the voice. It’s with that confidence that you can demand a little less talk and a little more action.

Lesson Eight (ii): Break all the rules.

Because, also, why the fuck not?

Copy is best when it surprises people. Letters don’t have to start in a certain way, especially if the brand’s voice isn’t best served by standard openings. Does the press release really need that bit at the beginning or the end? Really? How many people need to see this blog draft? How much strategy can a tweet need?

It’s through ‘throwaway’ copy like error messaging that you reveal the spirit and personality of your brand, the kind of thing that makes users feel an awful lot more comfortable with your site doing things like breaking.

It’s one of the things that I really enjoy about Flickr; its staff bleed through interface copy there in the most unexpected of ways.

(Last.fm already does that – from time to time – and there’s some lovely stuff buried away on internal docs written by Matt Brown about why that kind of thing is important.)

All the on-brand calls to action in the world be damned; if you’re not revealing who you are in more subtle ways then the cracks will show.

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