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Copywriting Essentials

Copywriting Essentials

Copywriting is about using words to express your voice and tone across any written media. Beyond this basic definition, copywriting has a higher purpose. It is a communicative aspect of your organization and of yourself, and is therefore always saying something about you - when you want it to, and despite yourself.

Copy - or the words used in a text - makes two points of connections concurrently. Within the first point of connection, copy creates identification between its text and its intended audience through arrangement. Certain words, phrases, even punctuation, when combined in selected ways can powerfully impact people’s perceptions. Here’s an example of how two punctuation marks - the comma, and the colon - can change the entire context of a sentence.

• A woman without her man is nothing.
• A woman : without her, man is nothing.

Both these sentences have the same words, in the same order. In fact, the words and their arrangement are identical. Insert two strategically placed punctuation marks, and the sentences are entirely opposing.

This is an example of the first point of connection that copy makes with its readers. A person reading these sentences will agree with either the first or the second, or both and start to place the words in context.

Copy at the second point of connection generates meaning and evokes emotional responses based on the first point of connection.

Once we understand the context of copy, we start to create meaning, build perception, and attach socio-cultural perspectives to the words.

In a patriarchal society, the second sentence may cause people to take offense with the meaning. In societies which make no distinction between the rights of gender, the first sentence may well result in negative backlashing. And in either society, both sentences may either be welcomed or discarded and the copywriter hailed or blamed.

Clever, penetrating, and even insightful words may create identification with audiences, but it is critical to understand that the second point of connection will equally influence the overall effectiveness of the message and its reception, process, and place in your target audiences’ minds. There are too many examples of copywriting that have only taken the first point of connections into consideration, and have ignored, to their ultimate demise, the importance of the second point of connections.

Copywriting is a powerful and tenuous communication tool. It is based on language, and languages are culturally driven. An acceptable word in one language may mean something completely different in an other. When Chevrolet launched its Nova line of cars, people in the United States accepted the product with enthusiasm and even pride.

When Chevrolet launched in Spain, the snickers travelled from Seville to Zaragoza. Because the term 'Nova' in Spanish literally translates to “won’t go.” Cultural impact of languages is key to writing good copy.

The internet may have blurred the lines of business but has augmented the boundaries of culture. Thus a copywriter in Singapore may be contracted for a copywriting job in Italy without much hassle.
,br>But the Singapore-based copywriter needs to understand the context in which communication operates within Italy — the power of copy in both Singapore and Italy are equal but its cultural presence and impact may be regarded as polar opposites.

In other words, what may be construed as fun or funny in Singapore's copywriting landscape, may be met with contempt in the Italian cultural scene. There are lots of talented writers in our world. Not all are copywriters. The ability to write in a language is an insufficient qualification to begin laying claims to copywriting.

Yet many promote themselves as copywriters because they are able to write a funny, or insightful tagline. This is the same as someone claiming he or she is a ballet dancers simply because that person can touch his or her toes without bending the knees.

Like every specialized field that requires depth of understanding, plentiful exposure to cultures, and basic rigorous training, copywriting mandates an immersive knowledge and solid grounding in the field before one may exalt themselves with the title of copywriter.

It truly serves a noble purpose and has the power to move people all over the world from Singapore to Spain, across NGOs to NASA, to you and me.

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