This was a freelance job for a company called Scribblesite Inc. over in San Francisco. Talking about the problem, my contact, Jon, told me that "people don't clearly see the difference between my app and the other apps out there, and therefore don't want to download it. Secondly, feedback tells me that there's too much information and the user doesn't want to take the time to read through everything." My job, then, was to define and distill the key differentiators - turning it into simple, punchy copy that immediately told people why they should bother with the app. In Jon's own words, the key concept was to build " app allows people to create or join events in their local area. These events allow users to meet new people as well as make new friends." He left this feedback for me after the project: "Nathan was absolutely fantastic. Clear and concise, he was...
A pure ideation project, the only deliverable was a core concept that would reinvent Innergie's brand. As a spin-off from a large electronics company, they'd done well in the 3 years they'd been operating but had recently hit a wall. Their branding was clean and simple - very much like Apple - but there was nothing to differentiate them from anyone else in the market. So they were looking for a new, core idea they could use in their rebranding. And it was up to us to find it. The challenge was that power supply products are invisible and functional. Our idea had to change this perception. In the end we linked electricity to life moments - highlighting the role power plays in our lives in a simple, powerful way.
Big Aspect (video)
When Big Aspect asked for help with this video, my first thought was, "You need to tell the audience WHY you do what you do. Not what you do, or how you do it, but why. You need to talk "from the inside out." This, of course, was not a new idea - as Simon Sinek says in his TED Talk, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. I'd merely taken what I learned and applied it to Big Aspect's video. See for yourself. It's a great talk. ...
I've done quite a bit for Big Aspect - defined their slogan, written the brand intro, their about us content, their services, newsletters and a video script, as well as proofreading case studies and other material. A management consultancy based in central London, I first met the owner of Big Aspect at a technology event on the Thames in late 2011. Since then I'm happy to say that I've watched the company grow quickly - the firm now has its first clients and is going from strength to strength.
An app development agency in Shoreditch, London, the guys at Nice Agency had a fledgling tone of voice but needed to take the next step, turning it into something consistent and compelling. I started by playing on the name of the agency in both their menu and their “about us” content. The rest was something of a challenge. I had to find a balance between highly technical descriptions of their processes and technology – everything a demanding corporate client might expect – and a way of speaking that didn't scare people off (click to enlarge).
DDG's the brand consultancy I worked at in Taipei, Taiwan. I got involved in far more than a corporate copywriter might expect to, and was often asked to give feedback on concepts or design that had little to do with words alone. Leaders in their field, our work ranged from straightforward logo design, naming and ideation to full-blown organisation-wide rebranding and brand creation projects. The consultancy also began rebranding itself almost as soon as I'd joined, which meant that I was tasked with writing DDG's new slogan - "Think Before You Brand" - as well as defining many of their services for the first time and creating a series of new case studies for the website.
Hatch ‘n Co.
These guys were Taiwanese manufacturers who'd designed an integrated keyboard and case for iPads. They made great products but hit a brick wall when it came to branding. So we started with the core concept - what's the main idea that would drive this brand - and latched onto entrepreneurship. Taking silicon valley for inspiration, I was tasked with defining the brand. Slogan, brand definition (shown as "philosophy" on their site), product copy and brochure. I began with quotes from real-life silicon valley founders. The words "Start early, start often, start over" was a twist on a real-life quote, and the strapline "Start something" followed on as an extension of that.
Rise / Fasthosts
This is where I work today. Actually I work across two brands simultaneously - both for Fasthosts and its cloud computing division, Rise. As their in-house writer, I'm tasked with lots of copy for the web, as well as blog articles, video scripts, case studies, advertising content, product descriptions and newsletters (all of which gets done internally). Another aspect to the job is more strategic. I've been a member of the creative team tasked with generating ideas for our next marketing campaign. I've also been part of the task force with the responsibility of defining Fasthosts' new vision, mission and values, our tone of voice, and slogan.
This was the full shebang. New slogan. New brand definition. New product series names. Over 40 individual products to name. And the product descriptions to boot. Because these were iPhone and iPad cases, we settled on a theme revolving around sculpture. So to write the slogan and brand definition I started with some real-life quotes from Picasso - eventually settling on "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". As this was a completely new Taiwanese brand aiming to crack the Western market, I knew that authenticity was going to be key to their success. The product names (taupe gray, chamois black, burlywood, black bistre) were therefore also based on lesser-known real-life names.
ASUS had already chosen the core idea for their campaign - "Eee is Me" - now they were looking for ways to make it viable. Designed to promote their "Eee Pad" range, the concept had to make use of their core idea and resonate with a target audience of 30-something creatives and professionals. The distinguishing feature of the product was the ability to create rather than merely consume as with the iPad. So, arguing for utter simplicity, I coined the "Share Your Me" phrase that the design team ran with and DDG presented to ASUS. ...
Creative Sheep is a web design company based in Gloucestershire. They were struggling to communicate the things that made them special in a simple, attractive way. So I sat down with the owner and went through the basics: Who are you talking to? Why should they care? What kind of tone of voice do you want? And what do you want them to walk away with? The result was a fun, memorable and engaging style that stands out from the crowd. It's one of my all-time personal favourites. ...
A technical writing project. And what a project it turned out to be! I was tasked with writing a technical white paper explaining the steps involved in IP security camera network installations. That's right - how to set up a security camera network using a local area network. Did I know the first thing about this? Not in the slightest. But did I know how to teach myself? Yes. And that's the skill that really counts in a project like this. The first step I took was to educate myself. About what makes a good white paper. About IP security networks. I needed to know as much as I could - otherwise I couldn't have an educated, constructive discussion with the client. The next step involved educating the client. I went down to their office and gave a presentation - making absolutely clear that they understood what a white paper was. It turned out...
This was a nice one. An established Australian art website that had just changed hands, the new owners got in touch because they felt the copy needed more zing. The previous content had been written with SEO in mind so it was up to me to give them a voice. With a lot of freedom to write as I thought appropriate, I soon found something they liked. ...
Fortune Medical are a local manufacturer in Taiwan. They needed a new brand identity, along with an original name for a product they hoped to sell internationally. After days of research into trademarked names in both the US and EU, we presented 10 to the company. They settled on Rystora, a name that would look at home on a market shelf anywhere in the world. The new company introduction followed soon after, helping to bring the brand up to international standards. ...
I've done plenty of proofreading in my time, but showing all of it would bore the pants off you. So I've simply included this one example to show the difference a good proofread can make. Here we have the before and after for each piece of content, respectively.
You've never heard of ZyXEL but it's huge - a listed company that turns over nearly half a billion US dollars a year. I wrote their 2011 corporate brochure, including the "message from the CEO". From start to finish, I filtered their existing content (much of it Chinglish) down to usable bullet points, and then span those bullet points back up into publishable prose.