December 7, 2012 by K. L. Wightman
The first mistake I made as a marketing assistant was on my first assignment. I was in charge of creating the copy for the events spread in the upcoming alumni magazine. I spent hours scavenging the college website and marketing handouts, and even more hours writing up event descriptions. I was a creative writer, and I wanted the most creative take on the upcoming galleries and plays.
I was fortunate to have an understanding boss. She kindly told me to erase what I put down and to insert the already-existing marketing copy for each event that I found online and in print.
Fixing my mistake only took an hour. And I never made that mistake again.
Marketing has refined the art of consistent copy. Businesses, campaigns, and brands are recognized by one slogan, one jingle, one mascot, one graphic, one font, and one font color.
But why is consistent copy so important?
It’s like training a puppy how to sit. The owner makes a sitting hand gesture (or moves the puppy’s rear into sitting position) and says “sit” in a commanding tone whenever s/he wants the puppy to sit. A puppy isn’t equipped with the English language, so the puppy won’t make the connection right away between “sit” and actually sitting.
Until one day, the puppy has a non-English thought: If I sit down when I hear “sit,” then I get a treat.
And then the puppy sits!
The owner had quicker success teaching the puppy how to sit because s/he used the same word each time. If the owner decided to switch it up by saying, “sit,” “take a seat,” “pop a squat,” and “plop down” every other try, the puppy who is already confused by English will never make an effort to learn to sit.
Consistent copy in marketing works the same way.
Here’s an example. Every Wednesday, you find a QRST Pizza postcard in your mailbox (it doesn’t yet exist, but perhaps this example will be an inspiration). It is the same size postcard that has the same red font, same logo that makes a pizza out of a Q, same slogan (“Quality Romano, Sauce, & Toppings!”), and same $2 off a large pizza coupon.
Every week this postcard gets tossed.
But on the seventh Wednesday, as you’re walking to your mailbox, you suddenly get a huge craving for pizza. Your stomach is growling just at the thought of quality Romano, sauce, and toppings. Where have you heard that before? That’s right, QRST Pizza! Now what pops into your head are the pizza Q logo, the red font, and the QRST slogan. You sure wished you kept that coupon.
But there it is again in your mailbox. And this time you use the postcard.
What if QRST Pizza printed a different font and font color, drawn a different pizza Q logo, or scribbled up a new slogan on each postcard? Would you have remembered them as easily? Would you have remembered them at all?
Consistent copy is easy to remember. Companies don’t do this because the customer is stupid but because the customer is efficient. We like mantras to chant, catchy jingles to sing, acronyms to recite, and mascots to root for. And we like reciting these when we have a demand for that company.
Like for QRST Pizza. Quality Romano, Sauce, & Toppings!
Consistent copy is easy to pass along. When a friend says they have a need for pizza, you are able to pass along the name and the slogan as well as the font and the logo on the sign in front of the store. Consistent copy makes the passing of information quick and effortless.
And then your friend orders a pizza. Or attends a college play.