Tasting the words
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
There is a secret trick that copywriters use. We put much effort into choosing our words. A famous Danish illustrator named Ib Thaning, whose art catalogue I was editing in 1997, once told me that he thought the best copywriters were those who pick a sentence apart and weigh each word separately before using it. Is this word necessary? Is this contributing to the desired image for the client and creating more sales? How does this word taste?
Each word has its own meaning, and when put in context can mean even more. Then add trendy buzzwords of our time, or the different lingo for each target group (your audience), each understood differently depending on our education, background and current mood of the day. And not to forget the tricky part of translations.
The Swedish language consists of 126 000 words, while the English language have 250 000 words, and three times more different meanings. Put into practice, that means that I can understand an English word, receive its nuance and specific tone of voice, but can't always find the right one in Swedish, because it lacks! Sometimes it drives me nuts! Yet, I'm so wonderfully grateful that I now have more words to play with, in English.
How do we then choose the words in the first place? As part of my education as a copywriter, we took a class in Persuasion psychology, and Copyright law, to understand and fully take responsibility for the power imbued in our words. We know that through our words, we can persuade someone to buy something, through whereas means such as enabling a sense of belonging, status, or a desired feeling, like becoming beautiful or sexy. If we can make you laugh, it's destined that you'll buy the product even more. All these things are part of our tool box and something we do take responsibility for. The Internet is changing the playing field, although one usually refer sales, ie someone actually taking action to buy or do something you want them to, to 1%. An ad needs to reach 100 000 people to sell 1000 products.
But, the majority of regular writers out there, famous social media influencers or just celebrities with their own accounts, have no idea which impact their words are going to have and how. Not to mention how many they reach, together with their followers sharing and news reporting.
This is why our profession is still needed.