From Unique Selling Point to Unique Social Point: The Evolution of Copywriting
When asked about where you live, your answer - and the most ideal answer, for that matter - should be 'in my head'. We are what we perceive, think and believe. Along with these experiences, most of us also live with different brands that constantly try to occupy any available head space, right?
The challenge for most companies is to wriggle through and find the perfect spot in your mental space. And the right path to reach this space is through your senses, which are sparked by ideas, images and words. From traditional advertising to online marketing, copywriting has played an important role. The essence of the brand has to boil down to one key message. And how we convey that message has always been the crux of the story.
Change Is Constant
Most people end up scanning an article from top to bottom (most of the time) just to gauge its length and value. Even you might have checked this article's length before you continued reading. The challenge here is: nobody reads nowadays. Or more correctly, nobody wants to read nowadays. Everyone wants information really quickly – sometimes before they can even finish reading a sentence. This has been a major turning point from the pre-millennial age to the millennial age; from print advertising to the advent of social media advertising. What’s more, we even see some emoticons replacing words (imagine telling this to Shakespeare – he must be tossing and turning in his grave).
Nowadays, we are impatient and want to get the most out of everything in as little time as possible. With this changing tide, copywriting has definitely evolved. We are now trying to build social conversations and to create a social selling point for brands.
Here are a few examples of how copywriting has evolved:
The first printed advertisement in the English language
You are looking at a slip that was printed by William Caxton, England’s first printer. On it, he praises a book he just produced, the Sarum Ordinal, a manual for priests. The sheet describes the book and then states that “you can get a copy at the Red Pale" (the name of his shop) in Westminster, London. You will not be disappointed because the book is “good and cheap", it further states.
Volkswagen ads - every old-school copywriter’s favourite
In 1960, this was a revolutionary way of thinking and writing for a famous car brand. Every old-school copywriter will vouch for these amazing ads.
Social media advertising
This advertisement by Yazoo is a snappy, cool and smart way to talk to the audience about a milk drink.
From sounding like your nagging grandmother to being your Tinder date, copywriting has faced many challenges. Although the main objective is to sell, having the ability to go viral is also one of the biggest challenges today.
But even though copywriting is evolving and finding its space, some rules have stayed golden:
- Out of all the emotions that human beings express, investigate which ones suit your brand best. How can you explore these to match the benefits of your product?
- What’s the main goal of your copy? Understand what your consumer needs and not what they want.
- Play with the human psyche first. And then with your words.
- Tease and arouse curiosity.
- (Try to) be brief.
Having said that, when it comes to copywriting, ‘one size fits all’ is a myth. A lot of things make copy work. Not just the words, but also the context; the stage which the brand is at (new, established, etc.); the images that support the copy; the relevant media; and, most importantly, the mental space which the brand has created in the minds of its consumers.
What’s remarkable is that every word impacts each individual differently, based on their personality, previous experiences and situation. So, a piece of copy is very dynamic and has a certain amount of elasticity to it.
We can only wait and see what comes next, and what the next phase of copywriting will be. Till then, let’s leave you with two thoughts. Everybody can talk, but only a few become great orators. And everybody can write, but only a few change the course of communication.
Sahana Prakash is creative at Dept