The Customer Experience: why your business blog is crucial

customers,customer experience,brands,business,blogging,writing

It’s how your brand and business make people feel, that really matters

Recently I heard a brilliant talk by Andrea Burton, from her UK-based insight and research consultancy by the same name, about the realities of the customer experience. I learned a lot from what Andrea shared and realised how important it is to apply her wise advice to the content of business blog posts. So here are a few things that I interpreted from her talk. [Read more…]

You’ve only made it when you lose your capital letter

Hmmmm…doesn’t really have a credible ring to it, does it?

Do you think “suzanstmaur” could become a generic term for better writing? No, I didn’t think so either. Ah, well.

However when you hit fame, or infamy, as the case may be… (“Infamy, infamy, why do people have it Infamy?”) …moving from name to generic term is simply a matter of dropping the initial capital letter to a lower case one. You go from being a proper noun to a common one, which is something of an irony considering that to achieve this you need to have acquired an audience of gazillions and been around for a long time.

No capital initial and being a common noun means you’ve made it to immortality, so it seems.

What does it take to move from “Facebook” to “facebook?”

…probably a few hard facts like having become an institution with around 900 million users or so … this does help. Although the word “facebook” is a trumped-up jollification it has, with that many folks using it, earned its place in the generic words hall of fame.

And as for Twitter? Well, the name itself hasn’t quite earned a lower-case “t” status yet, but “tweets,” “tweeting,” “tweeted” and other derivatives certainly have. Shame on you if you dare to stick a capital “T” on any of those.

How about Google? Oh, these kiddies really have earned their lower case status. Wherever you look both online and offline, you’re told to “google” this or that for further information. When I write about “googling” these days I feel embarrassed if I accidentally capitalize the first letter.

“G”oogle is just so passé, and so rude; it suggests that the writer/perpetrator hasn’t quite understood the hold that G/google has used to er, grasp the world by the Spherical Objects and become its sole, serious source of proper information. None of us would make that mistake a second time, huh.

Other useful generic terms

Having gotten really interested in this topic I consulted G (oh sorry) google and wound up looking through Wikipedia’s list (and Wikipedia is still stigmatized by a capital “W”) of generics and genericized trademarks. I was gob-smacked – an expressive British term – to find out the following (excerpts only) terms which also have joined the verbal Hall of Fame as terms we now use in everyday speech.

Aspirin … still a Bayer trademark name for acetylsalicylic acid in about 80 countries, including Canada and many countries in Europe, but declared generic in the USA.

EscalatorOriginally a trademark of Otis Elevator Company.

LanolinTrademarked as the term for a preparation of water and the wax from sheep’s wool.

LinoleumFloor covering, originally coined by Frederick Walton in 1864, and ruled as generic following a lawsuit for trademark infringement in 1878; probably the first product name to become a generic term.

Nurofen … brand name in the UK for Ibuprofen, being the name used by the Boots Company plc who first developed the drug.

PetrolCarless, Capel and Leonard invented the trade name “Petrol” for refined petroleum spirit, called “gasoline” in North America.

ThermosOriginally a Thermos GmbH trademark name for a vacuum flask; declared generic in the U.S. in 1963.

ZipperOriginally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich.

And so it goes on, but here is the real humdinger:

Heroin: originally a trademark of Bayer AG…..

Is your name or brand about to lose its capital letter and become a generic sensation? Let me know, and share your thoughts!

Give your writing some star quality:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

Has the internet killed off clever ad copy?

Back in the dark ages when copywriters got paid huge whacks for coming up with clever-clever advertising concepts, we (copywriters) had a wonderful time thinking up ideas that dug out people’s emotions and imaginations to appeal to their innermost desires for sex, rock ‘n’ roll, business supremacy, fashion accolades and quite a few more.

Ah, but we only had the slow media then

Let’s face it; print, TV, radio and other media in pre-online days were useful in as much as their messages, along with your messages about your brand, stayed around for a while – so consumers had the chance to absorb, digest and ultimately appreciate any subtleties that the ad campaigns put forward.

And many ad campaigns in those days where you could use the “slowness” of the media of the day to build up intrigue, suspense, curiosity and ultimately fiendish interest, worked – superbly. But would that approach still work today?

The internet: no time for creative subtlety

Much as I love the online environment and everything it stands for, I must say I do have a few regrets when I consider how its vibrant immediacy has pushed away the chance to tempt and inveigle consumers with subtle branding and clever advertising come-ons, over a period of time, cloaked in nuances and hints.

Online communications have made such earlier, printed approaches look stupid and vapid, and quite rightly. But how does that leave the online copywriter in terms of terminology and phrasing that zings with pre-internet sales oomph, when the online consumer public is saying “never mind the advertising b*llshi*t, just tell us the facts?”

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Much as we copywriters (well, I’m a “former” copywriter but still get asked to write ads) would love to let our creative fantasies loose as we did in the past, in our current environment where no-one has time for amusing metaphors any more we need, in many cases, to forget being clever-clever and work with “doing what it says on the tin.

Is this wrong? I don’t think so. In fact I think it’s quite a good thing, much as it pains me to say goodbye to the time and space the older media allowed us to use. In my view, the “cut the crap and get to the point” culture is a lot more honest in many ways.

It means that brands have to make their statements by doing rather than talking about it, because there’s no time for the long, slow build-up branding that was possible with the print and even TV campaigns of the past. Advertisers might regard the immediacy of the “click” as a powerful response device and so it is – but it only takes one more, similarly fast click to disappear your message, too. You really do have to get it right, first time, and there’s no time for frills or fanciness.

What do you think? I really would be interested to know.

Don’t let the internet kill off your clever copy:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English