Writing and words are so important. They help structure our thoughts and communicate our ideas. Here’s something that might make better writers out of all of us. I actually picked it up on one of my favourite sites https://www.brainpickings.org and it’s from the book About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews by Samuel Delany.
Though they have things in common, good writing and talented writing are not the same.
If you start with a confused, unclear, and badly written story, and apply the rules of good writing to it, you can probably turn it into a simple, logical, clearly written story. It will still not be a good one. The major fault of eighty-five to ninety-five percent of all fiction is that it is banal and dull.
Now old stories can always be told with new language. You can even add new characters to them; you can use them to dramatize new ideas. But eventually even the new language, characters, and ideas lose their ability to invigorate.
Either in content or in style, in subject matter or in rhetorical approach, fiction that is too much like other fiction is bad by definition. However paradoxical it sounds, good writing as a set of strictures (that is, when the writing is good and nothing more) produces most bad fiction. On one level or another, the realization of this is finally what turns most writers away from writing.
Talented writing is, however, something else. You need talent to write fiction.
Good writing is clear. Talented writing is energetic. Good writing avoids errors. Talented writing makes things happen in the reader’s mind — vividly, forcefully — that good writing, which stops with clarity and logic, doesn’t.
Great ads tell great stories. So, how does one write a great ad with a great storyline? I think advertising storylines have a few overarching idea ‘Arcs’ in common.
The first is based on using an instinctive approach – by that I mean an idea that captures a universally and culturally relevant insight or trend and links it to the brand in a relevant way.
The second is using an imaginative approach to demonstrate our proposition. This is done by building an intriguing fantasy world.
And the third approach is by using aspiration to get the audience to project their hopes and desires or ego onto the product or service being sold. Of course this method can also work in reverse – using fear or threat to warn the viewer of what could potentially go wrong if they make an incorrect decision. Either way, this is about getting the viewer to project their hopes and fears and then tying it up with the product in a relevant way.
Here are some examples that may make my points clearer.
IKEA are experts in simple, lighthearted ads that effortlessly communicate its proposition in a witty and insightfully creative way. The ad below is an example of instinctive / insightful communication build on a modern cultural truth about the way we live in a digital world.
On the other hand, this campaign for Georgetown Optician is a beautiful, imaginative story that tells the fictional story of a family obsessed with eyewear, that effectively communicates the point that Georgetown opticians are experts in glasses.
And finally, this campaign for NIKE, which tends to uses dreams to get people to aspire to the person they could become if they associate with NIKE.
Of course there is a final category – when we have a great product feature, we can showcase it with a simple product demonstration done in a beautiful way. Like this spot for the Apple Watch (watch the Sing and Date films as well).
Hopefully these examples will help kick start your next big brief. But whatever you do, keep it real or keep it edgy.