Writer, Reader, Rascal

Andrew Boulton is a copywriter with a decade of scribbling experience at places like Egg the online bank, some top agencies in the Midlands and once for a man who carved dolphins out of cheese. He...

... was nominated for the Professional Publishers Association Award for Business Media Columnist of the Year despite having little or no grasp of the semi colon. He has decent hair but a disappointing beard. You can follow him on Twitter @Boultini.

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17 September 2013 - 10:00am | posted by | 7 comments

Writing Bad: Why bad copywriting will kick your brand in the gonads

Writing Bad: Why bad copywriting will kick your brand in the gonadsWriting Bad: Why bad copywriting will kick your brand in the gonads

For those of you who choose to believe that I spend my weekends stripped to the waist, fighting Tiger Sharks with nothing more than a gung-ho attitude and a tiny pen from Argos, you are about to be disappointed.

I spent the weekend baking bread. Some good. Some bad. Some so bad that my tasting team likened it to being stabbed in the tongue with a sharpened turd.

And with this somewhat jumbled analogy, we reach the theme of this week’s blog. Bad stuff is bad.

More helpfully, bad stuff is damaging, actively and aggressively discouraging people from returning for a second helping. It’s true of my bread. It’s even truer of copywriting.

I’ve written before about the incredibly high standard within our profession. Copywriting is in extraordinary health and there is a great deal of inventive, persuasive and original work being created which should make us, as a profession, feel very proud.

But amongst the excellence, there still lingers the execrable.

Copy that is drab. Copy that is poorly constructed and even more poorly thought out. Uninteresting copy and, worse still, uninterested copy. There are many copy crimes taking place, most are unforgiveable, all are extremely counterproductive.

I don’t think I’m being over generous when I say that a lot of the bad copy in circulation cannot be blamed on the copywriter. The insistence of overruling a professional copywriter, or worse still neglecting to use one altogether, implants a foul stench into many a written campaign.

Most people working in marketing have surely encountered an occasion where time, effort and expertise is devoted to perfecting the brand, the logo, the proposition and other such elements, only for the copy itself to be hurried and mistreated.

If you take 30 rounds of amends to get your logo colour right, why on earth would you behave so flippantly towards the very heart of your message?

To a discerning eye, bad copy will offend and irritate. To the casual observer, it will bore and alienate. Even the finest copy will not have universal appeal, but a poor piece of copy will estrange every pocket of your audience.

Never should a first draft of copy be the right one. Occasionally the fourth one might nail it. Most likely, you’ll be scribbling into the sevens and eights before it’s spot on.

The myth in copywriting is that these rewrites are an annoyance. Yes it is entirely frustrating when good copy is changed for no other reasons but the whims and peeves of someone else. But the due diligence of a conscientious writer is to never accept their own draft as ‘good enough’. Quite frankly, because it isn’t.

Buffoons may not value the importance of strong copy, but balls to them. Good copy is our responsibility and our responsibility alone. And if you have to stab someone to death with a tiny Argos pen to get it...

Follow Andrew Boulton on Twitter @Boultini

Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency. Maybe don’t taste his bread.


18 Sep 2013 - 13:42

Oh the irony, an article about good copy with a typo! Errrrr 'entrirely'- copy also needs to be proof read ;)

17 Sep 2013 - 14:03
andrewboulton's picture

Ooops, superb spot!@JustMeDeaMarie

18 Sep 2013 - 12:10
duh_sponge's picture

That's the thing when writing - everytime you re-read you can find something that could be tweaked, tuned, refined and improved - and those pesky typos, missing words, etc that you read as correct, because you crafted it so you know what it should say (even when it doesn't). I always find fresh eyes a great way of ironing out the obvious errors that you can't see anymore. One of those tiny pens from Argos are great for gouging out the fresh eyes - then just pop them in your recently vacated sockets and away you go. OK, I might have embellished a little there... another crime of the writer (to add to eye gouging) - mea culpa.

18 Sep 2013 - 12:15
andrewboulton's picture

Fresh eyes is absolutely right. Plucking out someone else's fresh eyes is a bit of a grey area. @duh_sponge

19 Sep 2013 - 08:05
kevin_whittell's picture

The 'typo' is a disgrace, I will never read any of your work again…ever! Well done Marie. This kind of thing has to be stamped out.

19 Sep 2013 - 08:06
kevin_whittell's picture

The 'typo' is a disgrace, I will never read any of your work again…ever! Well done Marie. This kind of thing has to be stamped out.

12 Aug 2014 - 15:28
vvvei49032's picture

The question is why the bad copywriting will kick your brand, so the answer is evident. Everything that people associate with your business should be unique and of top-quality. Many people think that it is quite easy and they can cope without any help. Previous comments prove that it is really complicated process. So if you want to save your time and avoid stress it is better to apply professionals from this service http://www.helponessay.com/ . As any work it demands special skills, degree and experience. So there is no need to take risk, especially when we speak about the reputation.

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