Category Archives: Copy analysis


The other day I ran a writing workshop for designers with the talented Rob Self-Pierson, founder of writing agency The Table. We hosted a great group from a range of creative agencies and brands. Having battled through the snow to join us in the Whitechapel Gallery’s Creative Studio, they threw themselves into the day. And […]

Also posted in Advertising, Brand, Business, Design, Editing, Poetry, Speechwriting, Storytelling, Tone of voice, Workshops, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Elfgate

In the early days of writing for websites, when the Internet was still barely off the edge of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee’s desk, this sort of content, measured in volume and not clarity, was a form of the blight known as shovelware.

Posted in Copy analysis | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes, no, definitely maybe

The battle for and against Scottish independence is inspiring some fine writing.

Also posted in Campaigning, Crisis communications, History, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Writing is not about rules, but communicating ideas. Any company that rejects a job application because of a misplaced apostrophe is barking up the wrong tree. The most original thinkers I work with struggle to tie their shoelaces.

Also posted in Advertising, Art, Authors, Books, Brand, Business, Campaigning, Colloquialisms, Corporate communications, Crisis communications, Design, Education, Free speech, History, Jargon, Media, Plain English, Poetry, Politics, Reading, Storytelling, Tone of voice, Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorry tale

These printed apologies demonstrate one thing very clearly – when a company has its back against the wall it turns to words not pictures.

Also posted in Advertising, Brand, Business, Corporate communications, Crisis communications, Jargon, Letters, Media, Plain English, Storytelling, Tone of voice, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

50 shades of sorry

Sorry is one of the most subjective words in the English language because it can be infected with so many nuances. Far from expressing genuine contrition, governments, businesses, public figures and (sorry about this) you and me use apologies to divert attention, manage expectations, resuscitate reputations, and even implicate the victim. 2013 has already seen […]

Also posted in Brand, Business, Celebrities, Colloquialisms, Families, Jargon, Media, Politics, Relationships, Storytelling, Tone of voice, Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Noisy perfection

I am sitting in the Bodleian Library with Dr Christopher Fletcher, a Fellow of Exeter College, member of the English Faculty and Keeper of Special Collections. On the table between us is a yellowing manuscript of translucent pages inscribed with a neat copperplate script in brown ink. It is the autograph draft manuscript of The […]

Also posted in Art, Authors, Books, Brand, Business, Campaigning, Education, Families, Free speech, History, Photography, Politics, Reading, Storytelling, Writing | Leave a comment

The noise of waters

The Thames Water van was on a street nearby. ‘We love water’ suggests these providers of London-based aquatic solutions are making a noble effort to sound friendly and engaging.

Also posted in Brand, Business, Jargon, London, Photography, Plain English, Tone of voice, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Back to Midtown

If you’re going to promote an area’s links with great writers, you have to do better than ‘The Bloomsbury Set, based in the area included Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster.’ It doesn’t even make sense.

Also posted in Advertising, Authors, Brand, Business, History, London, Tone of voice, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Ugly truths

It’s not easy writing about global conspiracy on a poster. You have to capture the essence of a worldwide system of corruption in text a passer-by can digest swiftly. This piece – attached to a traffic light by Trafalgar Square in London – makes an ambitious effort to cover the necessary ground while the paused […]

Also posted in Attention span, Design, Education, London, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , | Comments closed