What’s the purpose of language? Communication. What single thing is vital for communication? Clarity.

In our delight at the way language can help us build personality, we sometimes forget that writing is primarily about communication. Sometimes simply delivering a message quickly and simply is more important than linguistic trickery.

There is great skill required to untangle and distill complex thoughts into easy-to-understand ideas. The problem is that it’s just not that sexy. Writing plain English doesn’t make for amusing copy or cute headlines and usually doesn’t get much attention in portfolios.

As a marketer, it’s hard to resist the temptation to use every possible trick available to you in order to assert your brand’s distinctiveness.

But the truth is, sometimes verbose or chatty packaging, point of sale or communication is counter-productive.

Injecting some personality into your brand’s tone of voice can make it more human. But it can also put friction into the way a consumer interacts with your brand. Narrative may engage us emotionally, but reading requires brainpower and sometimes, we just want to book a flight, buy a loaf of bread, or order a pizza quickly, easily and confidently.

People often remark that design is something you only notice when it’s bad.

The same could be said of writing. Clear writing makes for seamless experiences. Bad writing slows things down.

None of this means that clear writing is boring writing. It’s still possible to express nuance through your choice of words and the way in which you put them together.

It’s probably best summed up as “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Written by: Nigel


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