Name that Brand

One of the biggest challenges for any new company or an existing business looking to overhaul its image with a re-brand is deciding on a name. In the age of Apple, Google, and Uber, a clever name can make or break your company. It’s your first impression, and your sharpest tool for promoting brand growth and recognition. And while it’s totally acceptable to make one up, it’s also really easy to miss the mark. Recent naming trends inspired by top tech brands like Facebook, Yelp, and many others include blending words, borrowing words (or parts of words) from other languages, delving into mythology for lost names and meanings, changing the spelling or pronunciation of existing words, or making up completely new words. (We draw the line at tech-inspired baby names. Sorry, little Hashtag.) When you create a never before used name, you’ll have to infuse meaning through careful marketing and brand building. But you can only do this with a name that “works.” Think about Yahoo, which may have sounded silly a decade ago but is now one of the most recognized brands in the world. If the company’s impending sale to Verizon goes through, they’re going to have their work cut out for them imbuing the same recognition into their new name, Altaba. Sounds like a 90s remix of a 70s disco song. So how do you know if a name works? One crucial—and often overlooked—step in the naming process is to try saying it out loud. This is one of our favorite tricks to test-drive copy, and it’s equally effective for test-driving prospective names. When a name hits the air, you’ll know right away whether it’s working or not. (Saying it in your […]

Someone SLAP me: The art of de-jargoning

One of our clients has a term for de-jargonizing copy: Speak Like A Person, or SLAP for short. Much of what we do for this client involves SLAP-ing copy written by their employees—taking out $5 words when a nickel one will do, removing over-used terms and terminology, and generally making the language flow, making it sound natural, as if a real person were speaking, not a marketing robot. Since most copy originates with real people, it seems like this natural flow would be built in, right? But it’s not. Almost everyone needs a little help making their copy sound human. Because every industry, niche, organization, and office develops its own language—its own private jargon—and the longer you’re in it, the harder it is to escape and to remember how strange the language was before you learned it. Using the lingo of your industry or profession serves many purposes: basic communication, creating a sense of tribe or community, and as evidence of your prowess—in order to succeed, you not only have to walk the walk, you gotta talk the talk. For example, in IT marketing, we talk about innovation, performance, visibility, optimization, and security. In business we talk about customer engagement, maximizing profitability, consumerization, and monetization. Parlance like this isn’t limited to the professional world. Think about your personal life; in your circle of friends or your family you probably use sayings that others might not understand—historical references, inside jokes, song lyrics, movie or TV lines (“No soup for you!”). You may even speak several “languages”—at home, at work, with your friends. And yet another on social media, where hashtags have gone from being an algorithmic classification to a way to comment on your own life […]

WriteBrand announces full design capabilities in Microsoft Word

For years, WriteBrand has been a boutique copywriting and brand strategy agency, filling a unique niche in the West Coast marketing/advertising industry. And words have always been our focus. Today, we’re proud to announce an expansion of our capabilities. In addition to writing and brand strategy services, we’ll also be offering full design capabilities in Microsoft Word. “We’re highly skilled in Word after working in it all these years, so it was a natural step to offer these design services to our clients,” says WriteBrand founder Janelle McGlothlin. “And as writers, we have a natural knack for design. Writing and design are pretty much the same thing, really.” “We can do brochures, one-sheets, any kind of printed material. We can make it one-column, two-column, even do three-column, and we can put the page breaks wherever you want them,” says writer Mouncey Ferguson. “We can add images, too, though they can be a little glitchy. Because of this, we also deliver a pdf file that is compatible with Mac or PC.” “We can even use the ‘save as web page’ command and create a web page for you,” Ferguson added. “We have a dedicated process for learning our clients needs and understanding their vision, and then either making the text bigger or smaller to accommodate that vision,” says office manager and project coordinator Rebecca LaFond. “We can also make text bold, italic, or underlined for no extra charge.” We’ll also offer logo design services. Says writer Kat Popovic, “We can put your company name or first letter in one of hundreds of fonts, to create a logo that uniquely expresses your brand promise.” Other firms offer design services using other software, such as the Adobe Creative […]

Weird, random, and wonderful things we know

One of the things we love about our job is that we get to learn about all kinds of topics we’d never come across in everyday life. And we’re not just scratching the surface—we dive deep. We know stuff about everything from Norwegian hydropower projects to Mexican banking. Here are just a few of the random (yet fascinating) things we learned last year, which, as writers, we really have no business knowing. The neck of a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar has to withstand 250lbs of torque exerted by the strings. And plain old corrugated cardboard, the very same stuff Amazon delivers your coffee pods and yoga straps in, when layered together with just the right amount of glue, can be made strong enough to replace the standard maple core Fender usually uses to make the neck. It’s true. We learned all about Formula One drafting and slipstreams—you know, like Ricky Bobby’s “shake ‘n bake” maneuver in Talladega Nights… Except these guys do it in Ferraris, not Fords. (Bonus points if you can figure out how this was related to IT infrastructure analytics, the project we researched it for.) Did you know that open workspaces reduce productivity? (Think: Office Space.) Better yet—did you know that adding “brown” or “pink” background noise (like the sounds of falling rain or rushing water) helps block out the regular background noise (ringing phones, chatty co-workers, annoying bosses, etc.) so you can focus? Yep, it’s called “noise-masking.” It’s a thing. You wanna talk architecture, infrastructure, energy efficiency, energy bars, generative design, impact design, corporate IT, IoT, social engineering, structural engineering, medical platform management, janitorial supplies, or even beaming fuel to rockets in space? Let’s go. We will talk you under the […]

Content marketing: A smarter way to connect

In the rapid-fire world of digital, on-demand everything, advertising has lost some of its punch. We are simply over-saturated. Businesses need to find new ways to engage customers and drive them to take action. And so, content marketing was born. Think of it as a great way to connect with your target audience and position yourself as the go-to brand and a thought leader (without waving your logo in their faces). Content marketing is about creating and curating valuable content that’s packed with the kind of information your audience is looking for, and delivering it to the places where they are looking. You can gain new customers, and also compel existing customers to act—whether you want them to visit your website, buy your product, or sign up for your newsletter. It’s all about crafting thoughtful, useful content and buttoning it up with a smart call-to-action that serves your audience, while also serving your brand. It’s not about thinly veiled self-promotion. So how does content marketing differ from traditional advertising? Think of it like this: When you advertise, you tell the world you’re awesome. When you use content marketing, you show them. It’s the anti-advertising way to promote your brand, your value, and your expertise. It’s about sharing ideas, instead of pushing products. As big fans of “show, don’t tell” (a golden rule of writing), we’re huge proponents of this strategy. And we’ve enjoyed dipping our toes into it lately, with some great results for our clients.     Creating Real-time Navigable 3D Infrastructure Models A piece we wrote about design visualization and civil engineering for the online magazine Informed Infrastructure.           CAD Manager’s Guide to the Galaxy This one for AEC […] Launches! (finally)

  Full disclosure – we’ve been working on this site for way too long. Our clients have kept us happily busy, so we can’t complain, but we did learn a thing or two in the process. Since many of our clients face the same issues we do as a company, we put together a few tips to help you take the stress out of getting your website off the ground. ____________________ We’ve all been there. (Especially us.) Some guy: So what do you do? You: I’m a blah blah blah at such and such and we do this, that and the other. SG: No way, I’m looking for a blah blah blah to do this, that and the other. What’s your website? (Crickets.) Y: Oh, well, um, I’m still working on it. It’s in development. You know how it goes, the cobbler’s children have no shoes… SG: (Back to those crickets.) The truth is, to survive in today’s business world you need a website. And to thrive, you need a good one. Building a website can be overwhelming. If you’ve never done it before, or even if you have but it’s time for an update, it’s hard to know where to start. There’s so much to think about, and so little time. (Not to mention TV to binge-watch.) As copywriters, we’ve helped create content for hundreds (if not thousands) of websites. We’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve also seen the great – which is what you want. The first step is hiring the right designer. A good web designer is a great investment. According to one study, it takes visitors less then two-tenths of a second to form an opinion […]