There is a certain style of writing in advertising that sets it apart from other industries. The goal of copywriting and content marketing is trifold: We want to inform, persuade, and even remind the consumer about either our brand or the products our brands carry.
The channel we engage our consumers in can dictate the style of writing. If our consumer prefers the catalog, then our writing condenses a little bit, highlighting key points and features. If our consumer goes to our website, then our writing, more likely paired with visual content, can be a little longer. If the consumer decides on the social media route, our writing will follow the format best fitted for the specific social network.
We're writing in AdLand just to tell a story. The story, the writing, has first and foremost a commercial purpose.
Throughout the decades, we can look at advertising and see the difference in writing. This change is not exclusive to the AdLand community; no researchers have seen changes in writing when mass-publicized books and publishers release style guides pertaining to the best way to use the English language.
From Strunk & White to Zinsser and the AP Style Guide, there are several references writers can use to match the style that most writers use in our period. But the way marketers use language is even more different. We've highlighted Ogilvy's rules of writing and Orson Welles' guide to writing before on BMA, and both agreed that sometimes the best writing is writing that breaks all the rules.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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