Less is more?

July 20, 2015

When copywriters write headlines, endlines and slogans, we normally try to keep them brief. Our thinking is that short lines are more likely to grab the reader’s attention than long ones. And like a small snack, short copy is easier to digest than a mouthful of words. Short is simple. Less is more. That’s why we try to chop every unnecessary word from our copy. But . . .

Less can be less

Sometimes, writers are just too brief. I recently saw a tagline for a personal cloud storage brand that just said “Absolutely”. That’s all. It was simple, I’ll grant you, but rather ambiguous (Absolutely what? You could take the word to mean a number of things).

And then there are ads with one-word headlines. In my view, they rarely work. One word, big and bold, is  likely to catch your attention. But it needs to be unusual (e.g. one you’ve made up) or shocking, like an expletive. Otherwise it won’t draw you in to read the body copy where you’ll learn what the ad is about.

The following print ad, from Uruguay, doesn’t have any words, other than the logo:

Art Director: Rafael Ramírez (no copywriter credited)

Art Director: Rafael Ramírez (no copywriter credited)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you understand the ad above? I didn’t. But then I saw the following version, with words:

Hyundai with copy (Medium)

Translation: “Don’t lose control for a message.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mmm

Don’t you think it’s better with words? I think the earlier version, without any copy, while simpler, doesn’t communicate as effectively. It’s a case of less is less: less copy, less effective communication.

Of course, ads with no words at all can work very effectively, as the following example, from Mexico, shows:

Copywriter: Abraham Quintana

Copywriter: Abraham Quintana

 

 

 

 

 

 

And more can be . . . more

The other day I stumbled upon the following headline for a clothes shop:

Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 10.58.40

 

 

Great line, don’t you think? Most clothes shops wouldn’t bother with the second sentence. And some designers would want to get rid of it too, because they’re obsessed with the notion that less is more. But that headline is an exception to the rule. The second bit makes me smile. It forms a connection between me and the shop owner. It makes me want to go in and check out the sale. In this case, more is definitely more.

 

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