by Jim Compton-Hall
August 26, 2015
If your copy isn't creative, you're not doing it right
No one reads your blog, your emails suck and let's face it, 250 Twitter followers is pretty poor.
Thousands of brands are in this position. The classic "If you build it, no one bloody comes" situation. And why? Because you're doing it wrong. There's no creativity in your copy. It's like drinking coffee without a dash of milk and a little hazelnut-sprinkled whipped cream topping. So wrong.
Without creativity, there's little point in doing any of that blogging, social media-ing, emailing stuff. It's boring, it's spam, it's crap. No one will read it and no one will shed a tear for you or your broken dreams.
You don't have to write about a hamster back-flipping over an erupting volcano of maple syrup and fries while dinosaur aliens beam down to give everyone rainbow hugs and space herpes. That's not creativity, that's just silly.
But you do have to make your copy a little different and give your audience a little more.
Freelancing with an IT start-up recently I discovered that the original brief for their old website was to just copy their biggest competitor. Gee, how could that go wrong? They didn't think any of that stuff really mattered and in the end they just sounded bland and no different from anyone else. Their audience had no reason to come to them, let alone keep coming to them.
Creativity is about injecting your writing with something that gives it an edge. Maybe that is silliness or humour but equally, it could be seriousness, or formality, or maturity. Try looking at what everyone else is doing and then do the opposite.
Whenever you're writing about your brand, creativity is necessary if you want to stand out from competitors — but just as importantly, it will make your writing more refreshing and enjoyable to read. That's what leads to your audience coming back for more and sharing your content and engaging with your brand and finally falling in love with you and forgetting about sodding Gustav and his sodding muscles and...ahem, where was I?
The following are some of my favourite examples of how creativity can boost copywriting and ultimately, the success of a brand.
Instead of the usual "come eat at our place"–style poster, Urban Eatery decided to poke a little fun at its audience, and it went down very well. The creativity here makes them so much more memorable and intrigues their audience far more than "we've got nice food" could ever achieve.
A challenger phone network that wants to take on the big dogs. Good luck, right? Well Tesco has always been very creative with social media, encouraging hundreds of shares on a daily basis and advancing its profile massively. Tesco’s most famous feat is entering into a rap battle with one of the biggest phone networks around (and getting near-unlimited exposure for it), but its feed is full of everyday brilliance.
Perhaps an even better social media example is @The_Dolphin_pub. It’s not even affiliated with the actual London pub; it's merely a creative parody (by the fantastic David Levin). But through humour it has made the place famous and drives far more customers than the official Dolphin Pub Twitter account.
Just to prove that creativity can work in any industry (so you've got no excuse), here's what one clever waste management brand did.
If you want your blogs, your email campaigns, your social media, your web copy and really any other writing about your brand to be successful, creativity is a necessary ingredient — perhaps the most necessary. Without creativity, you're doing it wrong — and you're dooming yourself to misery, just like anyone who accepts a hug from a dinosaur alien.
Jim Compton-Hall is a freelance copywriter.
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