Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

4 Lost Copy Opportunities that Handicap Your Brand

The devil is in the details. One rotten apple ruins the crop. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

There’s a reason these sayings have become cliché – they’re based on truisms, and these truisms hold in business as much as they do in Life.

Your brand is the sum of all the impressions it makes – from your company name and logo to your website and advertising to your product quality and customer service. Each touch point your brand has with a prospect or customer is a piece in the puzzle that eventually gives them a whole picture of who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why: your brand.

Often when I’m working with clients on a larger project – a website redesign, for instance, or a branding makeover – the tendency is to focus on the Big Things and overlook the smaller copy details. The Big Things are important, but the details can have just as much impact on a person’s overall impression of your brand. Whether a prospect is reading your home page or an error message, they should have a sense of your brand personality and proposition.

If you want to ensure that the impression you give is cohesive, professional, and capable, skip the default text and try giving these small copy assignments some extra attention:

1. Error Messages – Since I already mentioned this one, let’s start here. It’s bad enough to have your visitor get an error message, so why not make sure that if they do it’s at least friendly and even perhaps helpful. Customize the page language to apologize and even redirect them.
2. Confirmation and Thank You Pages – Each of the pages related to forms should be customized with care. If a visitor to your site has taken the time to complete a form to register for an event, subscribe to your newsletter, or initiate a conversation with a sales person, you’re not only screwing up your marketing but your basic manners if you don’t respond appropriately. The first mistake I see here is no confirmation/thank you page at all. When someone fills out a form, they want to know it went somewhere. Offer some reassurance by having the form completion trigger a confirmation page and then make sure that page is written in the flavor of your site, not the voice of a website robot.
3. Auto-responder E-mails – Speaking of robots, auto-responder E-mails are another place where I often see companies fall down on their branding. For some reason, it’s often assumed that these can be written by the guy who runs the mail room. I wouldn’t recommend that. Each of these is, again, an opportunity to make a connection in the prospect’s mind between your brand and their need. Keep them simple and clear (don’t try to cram fourteen calls to action in one E-mail), but write them with care using the right messaging and some personality.
4. On-site Messages – Some site experience incorporate pop-up messages that are triggered by user actions. These are another often overlooked opportunity to put your brand out there the right way. Don’t rely on canned copy for these. Anything that may interrupt the visitor’s experience should be especially carefully crafted since it will already be viewed as a nuisance.

Each of these touch points is only a small detail in the overall presentation of your brand, but that doesn’t make them any less important. As I said at the beginning, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you take as much care with the nuances of these elements, you’ll be giving your prospects and customers the impression that you are completely pulled together, take pride in your work, and will pay attention to even the smallest details of their experience with your company. That’s not such a bad place to be, right?

What other details have you seen overlooked – either as a marketer, a brand, or as a customer? Have you ever had your impression of a brand shattered by sloppy copy?



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  1. Hi Jamie,

    I’m so lad to see another wonderful post from you!
    My biggest takeaway from your post is that these concepts/actions may appear minor but are so important for the overall customer experience and as an extension of your brand’s voice.

    One concept that you touch on and is in my mind crucially important is the overall tone of all your messages and interactions. I love it when I visit a website and not only is the GUI clean and friendly but the tone and voice make me feel like I belong and like someone actually gives a crap :)

    Like you say, it’s in the error messages, the redirects and on every opportunity that you have to engage with someone and create an emotional connection through functional and what would normally even be mundane tasks. I think brands should err more on the side of friendliness than on being formal.

    Thank you for sharing this post.


    • Jamie

      Bernardo –
      As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts. YES! As you said, these details are crucial to the overall experience and how your brand is perceived.

      I sometimes use the metaphor of directing a movie – you must attend to every detail, or the illusion is shattered and the viewer falls out of the story. The sets, costumes, dialog, props … everything must be perfect. You are creating a world and an experience of that world. If you step out of character – even for a moment – all is lost.

      And the beauty in marketing is that – if you are marketing authentically and from a place of true service – you will naturally be in character all the time … you just need to be sure that your online materials reflect that!

      TKS for coming by.

  2. Hey Jamie!

    This is really great b/c these are all things I really want to be thinking of lately! Sometimes I get so big picture I forget about the little things that mean so much!
    And just how in life sometimes it’s the little things that really show us what the big picture is, the same can be said for representing our brand, product, blog etc with these types of things like a simple Thank you Email, Auto-Responder, or skilfully placed PopUp where it actually belongs! (The ones that Popup EVERYTIME you enter a site are soooo annoying!)

    Inspired by your article today I’m going to add it on my to do list to take it to the next level or step when it comes to these things!

    – Lauren our awesome tribe! 😀

    • Jamie

      That’s exactly it, Lauren – Those little things really do make a huge difference – and how they are handled can be so revealing about the true nature of a person or a brand.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi Jamie!

    Great nook and cranny post here, some very insightful observations. I assume you have had experiences with websites where the inner workings of brands are exposed as “not so wonderful”. Haha!

    I like your follow-up comment about the similarity to directing a film, in which it is so true that every detail matters. For a brand, every limb and appendage of the company, and the conversational tone therein, must be vigilantly maintained so as to create a consistently pleasant and welcoming experience across the board.

    Happy to read from you again!


    • Jamie

      Hello, Peter! SO nice to hear from you. :)

      I’m glad you liked the movie director metaphor. When it comes to your brand, you really are the person it all comes down to. No one else is as responsible as you are for creating and maintaining that vision. It’s a big responsibility, but one that can also be a really fun creative exercise. (Though I’m a geek like that.)

      Thanks for coming by on this lovely Friday.

      PS – I LOVE your term “nook & cranny” post. I think I may have to make that a regular feature! 😉

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