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What Apple’s website can teach us about marketing copy

Add copywriting to the long list of things Apple does well.apple pen

Click on Apple’s website and you’ll find page after page of great marketing copy. Pick any topic there, even a dry one like “Supplier Responsibility,” and you’ll find good writing.

What so good about it?

  1. It’s easy to read. (Effortless, in fact.) Sentences are kept as short as possible, and crafted to flow rhythmically.
  2. It has genuine, authentic personality. When you read anything from Apple, it sounds like someone is speaking to you in person.
  3. It’s humble. Even when promoting a new breakthrough, the copy is never about how great Apple is; it’s about how much you’re going to enjoy using all those new breakthroughs in your daily life.

Nor does their copy ever try to impress the reader with how smart it is. Apple’s writers don’t write for themselves; they write for their audience. And they avoid self-indulgent attempts at cleverness.

The result is that you actually…read it. And you come away with a good feeling about their brand and their products because they’ve explained everything to you in a simple, understandable way, much as a friend would.

That’s what great professional copywriting can do for a brand.

A bit of cool Christmas trivia…

Ghost of Christmas Present

I’ve always enjoyed getting to the root of Christmas traditions, and seeing how they were shaped over time.

Here’s an interesting thing I recently learned (and thought was cool enough to share).

Charles Dickens’ description of the Ghost of Christmas Present wasn’t just a random characterization. It was actually a representation of the English “Father Christmas,” who himself was patterned after a variety of mythical characters, including, most notably, Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry.

Bacchus

You’ll notice from the depictions here that Bacchus, Father Christmas, and the Ghost of Christmas Present are indeed pretty similar. You can click the highlighted text links above to learn a bit about each.

And may God bless us, every one.

Father Christmas

 

 

 

The Greengrocers’ Apostrophe makes for rotten punctuation.

Greengrocer

These vine-ripened boo-boos can be found everywhere, not just the produce aisle.

Ever seen a sign advertising “Pumpkin’s For Sale”?

How about an arrow pointing the way to “Restroom’s”?

If so, you’ve encountered The Greengrocers’ Apostrophe. It occurs when someone mistakenly adds an apostrophe before an “s” to create a plural (e.g., Pumpkin’s for Pumpkins, Restroom’s for Restrooms.)

According to Wikipedia, the term was likely coined “in the middle of the 20th century …in Liverpool (England) at a time when such mistakes were common in the handwritten signs and advertisements of greengrocers.” (“Greengrocer” is the term our friends the Brits use for produce merchants.)

Unfortunately, the error is not limited to fruit and vegetable peddlers. This vine-ripened boo-boo can grow anywhere, often springing up far from any farmer’s market or citrus stand.

There’s something about seeing such an obvious error in public that makes many people cringe. A Facebook group – the Anti Greengrocers’ Apostrophe Strike Team – has even been established in hopes of eradicating the error.

You can do your part too:

1. Proofread anything you have to hastily scrawl. Taking a moment to check is the easiest way to catch errors you may have unconsciously made in your rush.

2. Remember that only in the rarest of cases is an apostrophe used to create a plural. For example:

• Mind your p’s and q’s.
• A lot of VIP’s attended.
• DVD’s for sale.

Even those last two are optional. The trend these days is to only use the apostrophe if it’s absolutely necessary to avoid confusion.

Which means the next generation of kids could well be learning their ABCs and not their ABC’s.

Here are five ways we’ll let you use us.

 (And there are plenty more where these came from.)

ben-hur-sea

Don’t worry — we get weekends off.

1. You realize your great product is sitting in a less-than-great package. Use us to design the great packaging your great product deserves.

2. Despite your best brainstorming efforts, your new product remains nameless. Use us to develop a name that gives your product a distinct identity in the marketplace.

3. Customers aren’t sure which of your products to select at the store. Use us to create attractive, effective point-of-sale materials that eliminate the guesswork for the customer.

4. Your old company logo is looking pretty, well, old. Use us to update it, visually linking your solid heritage to your forward-looking attitude.

5. Your website isn’t as user-friendly as it needs to be. Use us to make it both easier to navigate and easier on the eyes.

That’s for starters. There are literally dozens of ways you can use a good marketing and design partner with years of experience (i.e., us).

So go ahead; tap us for whatever you need. We don’t mind being used.

We’ll show you five more ways you can use us in an upcoming post.

Palette, Palate and Pallet

Hi. Dave here.Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 1.22.07 PM

As the agency’s proofreader, I’ve caught and corrected all kinds of mistakes.

Lately, I’ve seen one particular boo-boo zinging even super smart people (both here and elsewhere). So let’s kick it to the curb once and
for all.

Palette = an artist’s tool or an array of colors

Palate = the back of the roof of your mouth

Pallet = a wooden thing you put heavy stuff on

Okay, so how can we keep them straight?

“Palette” is kinda French-looking, so there’s an “artsy” sense to it.

“Palate” is only one letter different from “plate,” which ties into food and eating.

“Pallet” is pretty close to “mallet,” which you could find lying near a pallet in a warehouse.

Pretty easy, huh? Hope this helps.

(For a thorough list of avoidable word crimes like this one, check out this very entertaining video by “Weird Al” Yankovic.)

The Dancing Dead

dancing_skeletons

“Danse macabre” really gets things moving.

The dead rising from their graves and making merry on Halloween night: That’s the story told by Danse macabre, an instrumental piece written by the 19th century French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

The work is based on an old French superstition in which Death appears at midnight on Halloween and plays his fiddle, calling forth the dead to dance to his tune. As you listen to the piece, you’ll have no trouble envisioning a throng of grinning skeletons reveling through the cemetery as they celebrate their annual night of freedom from the grave.

Near the end of the piece, a rooster crows (an oboe, I think) to signal the coming dawn. The skeletons recoil in fright and glumly slink back to their tombs for another year.

My elementary school music teacher introduced me to Danse macabre waaay back when I was a little kid and I’ll always remember hearing it that first time. Every October I put it back into heavy rotation on my iPod and let the dead dance through my mind again and again.

The tune is about seven minutes long and is available on iTunes. You can also sample it with various video accompaniments on YouTube.

Office Cupboard Oddities

An office kitchen cupboard is essentially a throwaway pile with shelves. We put things there that don’t have a snowball’s chance of ever being consumed.

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One gift stands out at the Christmas party.

At our annual Christmas party we always do a lottery-style white elephant gift exchange, with presents ranging from semi-useful to quickly-discarded.

A few examples:

• Leftover promotional T-shirts from a decade ago

• VHS tapes of Star Trek: The Next Generation

• Books on subjects no one cares about except the author

• A toy from a Burger King fun meal

• A used gym bag

• Halloween candy from ALDI

• A deep fryer (practical, but quickly returned by the recipient due to an inordinate fear of cholesterol)

The real gift that this little event provides, however, is the opportunity to relax and share a few laughs together as a team, and to salute each other for all the hard work throughout the year.

That’s the one to look back on and remember.