A Monthly Meditation on Branding Language
From Your Favorite Copy Shop, Editorial Emergency

Issue 12 (Jan. 31, 2008): Fear Not

Read on for an indictment of fear-based marketing, a hint about hyphen deployment, an endorsement of songbird Tift Merritt, an installment of Not Our Clients and a soupÁon of self-aggrandizement.

Fear-Based Branding: Don't Let It Happen to YOU

ImageIt happens all the time.

A client hires EE to write some crucial piece of branding or marketing collateral and says he wants something punchy, dynamic and attention-getting – a compelling distillation of the company or product's personality. As soon as we submit exactly that, however, we're met by a wave of second-guessing. "What if people think we're too creative or too smart or not anonymously corporate enough? Maybe we should just do what our competitors do; would you mind studying their websites and using the same tired, hollow jargon they use?"

Read the rest here.

Red-Pen Pointer: Hyphens Got Ya Down?

Doesn't really illustrate our point, but funny.
One of our favorite clients has occasionally found himself flummoxed by hyphens, and with good reason. They can be tricky. But if you decide to avoid them, you can end up with confusing, sometimes amusing constructions like the classic "small business owner." How small was he? You know that when you're writing persuasively, it's critical to make yourself as clear as possible. So I'll tell you what I should have told our client (I paraphrased the AP Stylebook entry on hyphens; you, dear reader, get the actual verbiage). "COMPOUND MODIFIERS: When a compound modifier – two or more words that express a single concept – precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in -ly: ... a full-time job, a well-known man, ... a very good time, an easily remembered rule." Here's where it gets complicated: "Many combinations that are hyphenated before a noun are not hyphenated when they occur after a noun: ... She works full time." Wondering about the "very" and "ly" exceptions to the rule? Drop us a This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it We actually enjoy discussing such things.

Round & Shiny: Merritts a Listen

ImageJoni Mitchell, arguably the patron saint of restless troubadours, mined her travels in Europe for some of the most resonant songs she ever penned. Singer-songwriter Tift Merritt is an avowed Mitchell fanatic, and perhaps it was St. Joni's continental rambles that moved Merritt to hole up in a Parisian garret to write her incandescent new album, Another Country. There's no question that the Texas-born, North Carolina-bred Merritt's muse enjoys brie on crusty bread. Following several albums of well-wrought alternative-country, this is the Grammy winner's finest work – and one of the most effortlessly moving pop-rock collections to come down the pike in a dog's age. She reportedly moved into a studio flat with a piano next to the bed after her first sublet ran out and, she recalls, "The best sleep I have ever known was sleeping beside that piano." Born of that blissful slumber are such bone-deep tunes as the miraculous "Morning Is My Destination" and the chiming "Broken." More than ever, Merritt's singing voice recalls the pure-toned expressiveness of her idol Emmylou Harris, but the revelation of Another Country is her discovery of her true voice as a writer.

Not Our Clients: "Spell My Name" Edition

ImageHolding a sign with your own name spelled wrong might be the very apotheosis of poor branding, in which case we suppose the otherwise very talented Joaquin Phoenix deserves some kind of award. Oh, wait – he's honored in this month's rascally roundup of mortifying mistakes, aka Not Our Clients. Check out the other culprits here.

And Now, Some Recent Feedback From a Real, Live Client

Image"Holy s***. That is amazing. OMG. Whoa. I don't even know what to say ... Wow. Oh man. I can keep going with the wows. Whoa."

We love to hear that kind of thing, of course, but we like to keep up with our clients and all our readers no matter what you have to say. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it about the raves you've been winning.

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