Give a shit about copy

I follow the blog “Great not Big” by Carl Erickson at Atomic Object. Yesterday he wrote about their value mantra “Give a shit”. I think it’s a brilliant way to express that you care about what you do. He ends the blogpost with the question if others would rather use “care deeply” or “give a shit” in public and why.

I definitely say “Give a shit”. I work with copy and it’s hard. Many companies use the same phrases, and most of them sound hollow. When potential clients read the same things and promises over and over again it has no impact. I think the phrase “care deeply” will go unnoticed or leave the reader with the feeling of empty promises.

If you instead read “Give a shit” you will react. Some may be offended but I think most people will react positively and, most importantly, remember you. “Give a shit” will stick. It will leave the client with the feeling that you mean what you say, and that is good copy.

Copy shouldn’t be written to sound good or suck up to clients. It should reflect how we work, be straight forward and honest. No bullshit. At Elabs we work with an open and constant dialog with our clients, we discuss and advise. Our copy should reflect that, so our clients know what they can expect. Right now it doesn’t, and we’re working on changing that.

A phrase that I think unfortunately is used too often in our business, and therefore lost its appeal, is “handcrafted”. The initial thought about using the term handcrafted about development was good, even great. It emphasizes that developers care about their work, care about details and about building something with quality to be proud of. But when too many companies use the phrase it loses its meaning. It won’t stick. At Elabs we’ve used the word bespoke instead. The problem is that it’s actually the same word, just sounds fancier. And it’s not memorable.

So how do we convey the meaning of handcrafted without using the word? I don’t know. But if we want to stand out and make clients react and remember us we must give a shit about our copy.