Most companies would not imagine designing (or redesigning) their logo without the help of an adept visual communicator, in other words, a graphic designer. They consider the visual aspects of their brands important enough to be placed in the hands of professionals. And once their logo has been designed, most companies insist on using it consistently in all of their communications. After all, this consistency signifies continuity, reliability, trustworthiness. People judge on appearances, but they also judge on the ability to match appearances. Image and substance must match; the two are the ingredients of marketing success.
If this is the approach taken by most companies to their visual messages, why not take the same approach to their verbal messages? If it is true that the verbal aspects of our brands, our communications, have the same impact on our markets, why not place these in the hands of professionals too? And who are these professionals?
They are professional writers and copy-editors. Writers produce the verbal messages that appeal to target markets: good writers engage and retain readers. But unless they are also skilled copy-editors, they may not produce copy that is linguistically and stylistically aligned with the brand: there may be errors,inconsistencies, which will counter the message of continuity and reliability that the brand guardians wish to convey.
To produce brand-aligned copy, both professional writers and copy-editors are needed. And while there are those who combine these roles with ease, this may not always be the case, be this the consequence of choice or ability. Copy-editing, you see, involves the ability to engage at a deep level with a text, often for long, lonely periods – and often with deadlines looming. This is exacting work.
Whether your brand is a personal one or that of your company, it – you – will be judged by your writing. Your intelligence, your creativity, your ability will be judged by your writing: well written texts promote respect for the perceived author’s ideas, products and services. Unfortunately, the opposite also applies.
So you could have your copy professionally written and copy-edited by a company, freelancer, or in-house staff member, or you could acquire these skills yourself – or you could combine these roles. But just as you would not wear a crumpled, ill-fitting suit to a gala dinner in your honour, do not risk your reputation by packaging it badly – in poorly written, unedited copy.
By Russell de la Porte