Is a picture worth a thousand words? Maybe. But by the same token, the right words are without a doubt worth a thousand pictures. The words you use to represent your business on your company’s flyers, website, posters, business cards, menus, brochures, Facebook page, etc. are crucial in crafting your company image. With those words, you are telling your customers and potential customers how they should perceive you. So if you’re feeling a lot of pressure to get it right, you should. Like Eminem said, “You only get one shot!”
But before you hyperventilate at your keyboard, take heart. You don’t have to be Shakespeare or Danielle Steele to put together some syllables that will paint your business favorably. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re writing text for your business cards, flyers, brochures, newsletters, and other print collateral to ensure that you make a good impression. Here are a few.
1. Don’t try too hard.
We recently got an invitation to an art gallery opening that was about 10” tall by 10” wide. It was printed on red glossy paper and it read “The Most Amazing Art Show EVER!” in huge white letters. We not only laughed, but we couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the invite and sharing the photo with friends, who also shared in the giggles.
Don’t get us wrong – it was a good art show. But the ridiculous claim the invitation boasted did not do anything to enhance the gallery’s image. In fact, it turned it into a joke, because they tried too hard. (Then again, it did get us talking about the gallery, even if it was to make fun of the venue. If you go by the adage that any press is good press, maybe you should try something over the top like this!)
The point is that there is a fine line between being clever and cute with your words and being absolutely cheesy. To walk that line, we suggest taking a look around at brochures, flyers, posters, business cards, and websites that attract you, and trying to emulate their style. For example, if you admire simplicity, you may want to go for something like Lego’s new ad, which features one of their Lego men built onto the top of Paris’s Arch d’Triumph, using just two words – “Build it” – to drive home their message. If you like more storytelling in your collaterals, you might design a postcard after Geico’s gecko or caveman ads style. Or if you’re going for a straightforward, classy effect, you can simply tell it like it is. That bring us to our next point.
There is no better or quicker way to discredit yourself than to spell something wrong in your company ad materials. We recently received a business card from a friend, for example, who is a professional endurance runner and fitness coach. Unfortunately, his card touted him as a “fiteness” coach. “Pffffff!!” we couldn’t quite hold back our laughter upon taking a look at the business card. “So you’re a ‘fite-ness’ coach, eh? Does that entail teaching people how to ‘fite?’ Or are we pronouncing it wrong? Is it ‘fit-e-ness?’” Our friend is really a world-class runner – someone who runs 100 miles at a time, through sweltering temperatures in foreign lands. And yet, in the blink of an eye, because of an oversight in the design of his business card, his sport and his job became a laughing matter. Thus is the power of the misspelling! The coach hadn’t seen the mistake up until then, and he went right back to the printer to get it fixed the next day. The moral of the story? Check once, check twice, use spell check, and have your friends check (all the better if one of them is a copy editor) before sending your designs off to the printer.
3. Take calculated risks.
We know we told you not to try too hard, but maybe what we really meant was to not LOOK like you tried too hard. You should toss around some new slogans from time to time, and you might even aim to provoke a few people if it means getting some good publicity. We don’t just mean calling your dog grooming parlor “Doggy Stylin’.” Come on, it’s been done. But get creative and call out to your customers with some fresh language. One of our favorites? “Your wife is hot. Better get your A/C fixed.” Come on, that is just classic!
You don’t have to be a genius to put some effective words down on a flyer. When in doubt, keep it simple and clean, and above all, make sure you go with a high quality printer once your design is ready to go!