A Monthly Meditation on Branding Language
From Your Favorite Copy Shop, Editorial Emergency
Issue 14 (March 28, 2008): Forging Ahead
Got a lot of irons in the fire? That's a metallic metaphor, of course – and so, technically, is "branding." Join us for a foray to the virtual foundry, not to mention a topsy-turvy trip through the metropolis of malapropisms, a heinous round of Not Our Clients boo-boos and more.
The Blacksmith and the Wordsmith
Back in the day, as we've noted elsewhere, announcing a brand required a trip to the blacksmith, who would forge a customized metal stamp at the end of a handle. This branding iron, once sufficiently elevated in temperature, would be applied to the hindquarters of unsuspecting livestock. Branding accomplished.
Our era has seen the word "brand" applied with a ubiquity that would've baffled the ranchers and smithies of yore. A perusal of the Editorializing archives will furnish some of our thoughts on the subject of what constitutes a brand and how best to develop, expand and maintain it. For now, however, suffice to say that what was once achievable with superheated metal now requires other means; to make a searing impression on the minds of potential customers, businesses invariably rely on language.
No matter how technology evolves, regardless of how pervasive and sophisticated the machinery of imaging becomes, it's words that seal the deal. In order to forge a modern brand, then, one must consult a wordsmith.
Think about every tool you use to address your customers – your advertising, newsletter, website, e-blasts, blog, social-networking profile, cred kit, media materials, SEO – these and myriad other elements are language-based. However inviting your inventory, dazzling your logo or bewitching your Flash-movie intro, everything prior to the verbal articulation of your message is little more than throat-clearing.
A wordsmith will not merely conjure up some tantalizing taglines, beguiling blurbs and/or sales-friendly slogans; any copy-slinger worthy of the name will ensure that all of your branding communications speak with a single, identifiable voice – the one that calls out to the customers you want in a way that authentically represents who you are and what you stand for.
Best of all, no cattle need be singed in the process.
Prostate With Grief
We got such an outpouring of "I know, right?" on last month's piece "She Literally Misused the Word" (see issue 13) that we've decided to keep a promise we made way back in Editorializing 6: The Undiscovered Country. In an article called "Suffering From Homophonia? Part 3," we wrote: "Next time: Malapropisms – you know, when people say 'distract' when they mean 'detract,' or 'antidote' when they mean 'anecdote.'"
Many of you likely delighted in the mangled utterances of beloved "Sopranos" capo/film producer Carmine "Little Carmine" Lupertazzi, Jr., portrayed by the wonderful Ray Abruzzo. "You're very observant: the sacred and the propane" and "There's no stigmata connected with going to a shrink" are two of our favorites. (For more "Sopranos"-speak, click here.) And I'd even hazard that a goodly percentage of you understand how Little Carmine is, in many ways, a descendent of the ever mis-speaking Mrs. Malaprop, easily the most memorable character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play "The Rivals."
Read the rest here.
Not Our Clients: Little Carmine
on the Campaign Trail Edition
The New York Times ought to know that John McCain is the prospective (not "perspective") Republican nominee.
This isn't just an error – it's a malapropism (see "Prostate With Grief," above). Feast your eyes on other such travesties in the latest heartrending (not "heart-rendering") edition of Not Our Clients.
Copywriting vs. Copyrighting
We occasionally pick up the phone to find ourselves talking to someone who wants help in obtaining copyrights. We patiently explain that we do copywriting, not copyrights, often engendering even greater bafflement. Still, we try, whenever possible, to steer those folks here. And if you happen to copyright some great copywriting, please drop us a line at
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