THE SONG IN A SEA OF TWEETS

Sometime in 2013, when I was working as part of an in-house marketing department for a national nonprofit, my boss swung by my desk and plopped an open Forbes magazine on top of whatever it was I was working on.

“Memorize this,” he said, “so that whenever anyone questions the importance of a stellar copywriter, you know what to say.”

The article, “In a World of 140 Characters, Great Writing Can Give a Brand Its Voice,” says everything I have always wanted to say to every brand that feels cutting marketing is a great way to hammer the budget.

It says what I have wanted to say in response to executives who can’t “justify” giving raises to writers and designers because they can’t pinpoint the ROI of good creative.

At one point, about midway through, Michael Lee, the founder of agency-search consultancy Madam and article author writes, “So why is this still working? Why do we still love to listen, to be inspired? Why do we, in a world of 140 characters and cybergrunts, react to voices like that?”

I believe the answer is that people actually do still like to listen. They want their brands to stand for something, a cause they can identify with or a philosophy that reflects their personality or their beliefs.

They want to be part of a tribe, and that tribe extends to the products they have in their homes, in their driveways, and in their bodies.

According to one article published in Bon Appetit, “When people buy products, it’s about personal identity, social-context issues, vanity, who they look like in front of friends,” says architect and supermarket designer Kevin Kelley of the firm Shook Kelley.

When a brand is crafting its voice, evolving its image, it needs good writers to help it think of its consumers as a community. It needs good writers to create real, emotional connections between its audience and the products people in it use and enjoy.

In the Forbes article, which I have now read several times, the writer quotes Susan Hoffman of Wieden + Kennedy, best known for its work with Nike:

At W+ K we write to encourage our audience to think, and we write strong enough words to push them to a response.

Twitter may get people to respond for a second, a few minutes, or maybe if you’re lucky a day. Smart brands get good copywriters to create the heart and soul they need to appeal to people for years.


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