Copywriting, consistency and why anyone cares

It’s not big lols, but getting your style right is a massive part of good copywriting.

Consistency is a load of old nobs. Does consistency help you win a fistfight with a furious manatee? It does not. Does consistency help you grow the kind of beard that could put four strong men in an unbreakable headlock? Not in the slightest.

Sadly though, despite its inherently unadventurous nature, consistency is a dirty big part of the copywriter’s world. We’ve all had jobs where we trudge agonisingly through a document – capitalising this but not that, trading hyphens for dashes, scrubbing out full stops with our own acerbic tears.

And for what? Would a customer spot that we had accidentally used full stops on some bullet points and not on others? Or are they too busy hurtling past the maelstrom of intrusive marketing language that flings itself perpetually into their hard, numb eyes?

These are valid, reasonable grievances. To which we are told, quite rightly, tough bums. The reason why consistency is so ground into a copywriter’s role is simple and rather stern. Customers may not notice the little differences, but clients certainly do.

That’s because modern marketing has deified the brand. It has created a state of trembling jealousy and frothing anxiety around it and, as such, guardianship of a brand extends far deeper than making sure your logo is the right way up.

And in a way it’s perfectly understandable. The tiny details we scratch over for signs of inconsistency may seem inconsequential, but a slackness at the bottom of a brand can quickly cause a baggy middle, before descending languidly into a sloppy top. Pretty soon we’re just standing knee deep in a formless mush and wondering why the cheques don’t seem to be coming in.

I’m aware that this argument feels a little bit like saying shoplifting a Drumstick lolly will inevitably lead to stealing a submarine and crashing it into a puppy farm. But brand and style guardianship ceases to exist if its application becomes selective, even if what we treat as irrelevant is, in the world outside our brand bubble, not actually that important. And if that doesn’t persuade you, I’m fairly certain the thought of other writers sneering at your slipshod styling will make your lungs bleed.

Is it a delightful part of an otherwise joyful job? No, not really. But does it reflect poorly on us as copywriters if we’ve written dazzling copy that, stylistically, is as confused as a dolphin with tickets to a musical based on the life of Jeff from Byker Grove? Even a powerful beard won’t get you out of that one friend.

Follow Andrew Boulton on Twitter @Boultini

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