From Sophisticated to Snarky: Saying It Just Right, Part II

The tone of any copy you print or publish speaks volumes about your company. So what's the best voice for your Web site copy, press release or brochure? In other words, how do you want your message to come across, in terms of attitude, and how do you think your target market wants you to speak to them?

Maybe you want your potential customers to know that your company is a hip assortment of idea people and creative thinkers who will bring a sense of urban wit to their work. Or perhaps you're a multi-generational family business whose customers share the same tried-and-true conservative values that you espouse?

Refer to the examples below (and those in Part I) to help differentiate between casual and conservative, hip and snarky, and so much more.

A note about the FAQs category: The Frequently Asked Questions section of your Web site or brochure is a great opportunity to showcase your personality. For example, if you are a fun-loving but get-the-job-done kind of company, then your FAQs should reflect that balance, providing useful to-the-point information, sprinkled with fun, feel-good phrases.

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Saidandsung.com’s At-a-Glance Guide | Copy Tone Comparison

TYPE OF COPY: PLAN DESCRIPTIONS

TONE: Conservative

1) from asmallorange.com

Powerful and Secure Hosting Plans

Service designed for high-traffic sites and online business

• Essentials

• Plus

• Premium

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from mailchimp.com

Forever Free Pricing Plan

Loved by more than 225,000 people.

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TYPE OF COPY: FAQS  (see the note above about FAQs)

TONE: Conservative

1) from ping.com

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Get answers.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

A collection of answers, replies and clarifications to our users’ favorite questions. It’s like a quiz, but with the answer sheet.

2) from vimeo.com

I don't know how to make videos. Where do I even start?

You don't need to be a Steven Speilberg to make videos. All you just need is a camera, and a little motivation.  [cont'd …]

3) from wufoo.com

How can I get at the data collected by my form?

In so many sweet ways, my friend. In addition to giving you the ability to design your own awesome reports, you can access your data within the admin interface, have Wufoo email you new entries, subscribe to them as via RSS feed or export them as an Excel document.

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TYPE OF COPY: REPORTS/STATS

TONE: Conservative

1) sample copy (no source)

You have no reports created. Click here to create one.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Accurate, Real-Time Monitoring

2) from wordpress.com

Stats to obsess over

Our stats are designed to give you up-to-the-minute data about your visitors: how many there are, where they’re coming from, which posts are most popular, and which search engine terms are sending visitors to your blog.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Oh no. Buddy! You don’t have any reports! Let’s go make one!

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NOTE: Creating perfect copy isn’t an assembly-line process. Saidandsung will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Missed Part I? Get up to speed.

From Sophisticated to Snarky: Saying It Just Right, Part I

In preparation for a new project, I recently asked a client to clarify the style they were seeking for the text on their Web site, and explained that the tone or voice of the copy can range from conservative to hip to casual to snarky and more. They asked me to explain the differences, and so I created the following guide, which I'll post in two parts.

If you're unsure about how your site or brochure or e-newsletters should read, scan over the examples below to help you pinpoint the correct copy tone for your target demographic, and check out my tips at the end for making your copy less formal.

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Saidandsung.com's At-a-Glance Guide | Copy Tone Comparison

TYPE OF COPY: Forgot Password

TONE: Conservative

1) from skype.com

Forgotten your password?

Change your password in three easy steps. This helps to keep your new password secure.

Type in the email address you used when you registered with Skype. Then we’ll email a code to this address.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

Forgot your password? That’s Okay. Everyone Forgets. Just tell us the email address you used to create your account and we’ll send you a new one!

2) from beezag.com

Word is you forgot your password. No worries — we’ve all been there. Click the link below and we’ll send you a new one your way!

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TYPE OF COPY: Contact Us

TONE: Conservative

1) from capitalone.com

Questions about your account? Log in to send a secure e-mail/message.

2) from asmallorange.com

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or criticisms, please feel free to contact us any time by e-mail at info@asowebdesign.com, or by phone at (404)-627-7789.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from apple.com

Have questions about MacBook? Just ask. Call to talk with a knowledgeable Apple specialist.

2) from mailchimp.com

How To Get In Touch

MailChimp's a small, nimble team that supports over 225,000 users

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from zendesk.com

Drop us a line.

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TYPE OF COPY: Join

TONE: Conservative

1) from linkedin.com

Ready to get started? Join now.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from thrillist.com

Get on the list.

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TYPE OF COPY: Login/Logout

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

Don’t have an account?

No worries.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Are you sure you want to logout?

Yes, I need to leave.

No, I want to go back.

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A small sampling of tips to make your copy less formal:

+ Remove formal verbs

before: No download is required.

after: No download required.

+ Utilize half-phrases for short copy (such as subheads)

before: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it …

after: If it ain’t broke …

+ Remove serial commas

before: connect via e-mail, print, web, sms, and social networks

after: connect via e-mail, print, web, sms and social networks

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Stay tuned for more tips and comparisons in Part II of this guide.

And keep in mind that creating perfect copy is hardly an assembly-line process. Saidandsung.com will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

Exclamation Nation

Let's face it. We love exclamation points. It's how we express emotion. When we're excited about a sale or a funny video clip or a great photo, we say, "You've got to see this!"

But when it comes to professional copy — especially corporate copy — we must choose our formatting carefully. Reducing the amount of exclamations to one per page is an effective way to ensure that your reader's eye will be drawn to THE IMPORTANT STATEMENT YOU WANT TO EMPHASIZE. Take this paragraph, for example: The use of all caps, much like exclamatory copy, makes that phrase stand out among the 70 other words here.

Effective copy needs balance in the way the words are formatted. These days, littering your online copy with too many exclamation points (or too much bolding or underlining or italics, for that matter), can come across as spam — especially when used in subject lines, headlines and subheads.

So be discriminate about your exclamations; don't reduce their power by overuse. Use them sparingly, so that they really pack a punch.

Note: Only one exclamation was used in the making of this blog post.

Visit saidandsung.com.

Carla