The Writer
The Writer
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  • On a recent train journey, I was sat behind a jovial group of tech bods. They were talking about their ‘elevator pitch’. Here’s what they said Tech bod #1: So an elevator pitch is what we’d say to someone about what we do, if we met them in a lift? Tech bod #2: Yeah. It has to be short and sweet, so you could say it all in a quick elevator ride. Tech bod #1 (jokingly): But we’ve got so much to...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • The General Data Protection Regulation comes in on 25th May and the new privacy rules have got marketers in a bit of a flap. That's no surprise when you read the document itself. It’s opaque and chock-full of jargon. If your business is updating its privacy policy or writing to customers about the changes, it’s up to you to break things down simply. Here are three tips for doing that. 1. Show p...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • My running buddy’s a doctor. And while pounding the pavements, she’s given me a few tips on how to get to the point. Because sometimes, it can be question of life or death. Before we started running together, I thought I had the whole ‘how to deliver difficult messages’ thing nailed: you say sorry; you explain why; you move on to a fix. But while that might work a treat when you’re writing to cus...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • ‘I see where you’re coming from, but…’ ‘He’s a nice guy, but…’ ‘We’re really sorry, but…’ But undoes all the words before it Sat in one of many business-y corporate conferences a few years back, our marketing director shared six words that really stuck with me: everything before the but is codswallop. (Well, that’s the censored version.) And it’s so true. The ‘but’ undoes everything you’ve ju...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • Hello, we’re The Writer, the world’s biggest language consultancy. We’re looking for students, ideally second-year undergraduates, to come to our two-day Word Experience (in London) on Thursday 12th and Friday 13th April 2018. If you like what you read, be sure to send us your application by Friday 23rd March. (You’ll see how to get in touch a bit further down.) What’s ‘Word Experience’? We ge...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • Take some wishy-washy words. Add a line about causing offence. Sprinkle a hashtag. Hold the sympathy. Leave to simmer, then turn up the heat online for 15 minutes. There you have the recipe for a half-baked public apology, cooked up by a publicist on behalf of a shamed celebrity. It’s a technique we’ve been seeing a lot of lately and, if social media is anything to go by, one we’re hot at spottin...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’ No prizes for guessing who said this one, especially as I’ve put his name in the title. Churchill’s words on the Battle of Britain in 1940 are probably some of the most famous in history. But something you might not know is that Churchill had a good few goes at these words – or a variation, at least – before he really ...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • It’s that time of year again. Tinsel, turkey and, um, trend forecasting. The number crunchers at Foresight Factory have come up with a corker: in 2018, customers will choose brands that sound more human and empathise more. Not to blow our own trumpet (well, maybe a bit), but we’ve been banging on about this for years. How talking like a real person and putting your readers’ needs first is good fo...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • We’re an opinionated bunch, here at The Writer. If you’ve ever worked with us, you’ll know we’ve got no time for things like buzzwords, or boring, formal writing. But we know we’re in a bubble. We think about words all day, every day. On the plus side, that means we know our stuff. But on the minus, there’s always a danger that we’ll lose touch with how real people think. So we teamed up with ...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • Walk down the aisles of any supermarket and you’ll be struck by the sheer number of products crowding each other on the shelves. Not only is the visual clutter confusing, but once you try and pick, say a shampoo, you’ll find they’re all telling more or less the same story. Sheen, shine and body are yours if you use this one. Our job as copywriters is to tell the product’s story. We want to make...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • We talk to a lot of our big FMCG clients about functional and emotional benefits. Functional benefits tell you what a product does for you. This deodorant stops you sweating. This bleach kills bacteria. Emotional benefits tell you how a product makes you feel. So if the deodorant stops you sweating, you’ll feel more comfortable. Using the bleach to kill bacteria makes you feel reassured that y...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • Our Hannah gave a great talk on language in culture recently. And although she covered a lot in the talk, we've thought it was worth pulling out four quick wordy tips that you can put into action, straight away. Watch your metaphors How would your people describe themselves? The pictures we paint can say a lot about our attitudes to work. It’s not hard to see why Enron’s ‘Guys with spikes’ made...

The Writer
The Writer
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  •   In most language guidelines, there’s a bit that goes, ‘Don’t say that, say this instead’. Usually, the don’ts are hideous corporate-speak, which then emerge in the ‘do’ column as gleaming paragons of concise simplicity. Unfortunately, Deliveroo seem to have got theirs the wrong way round, as the FT reports. In the don’t column: ‘We pay you every two weeks.’ In the do column: ‘Rider invoices...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • As everyone knows, this land is better than any other.   And we should take pride in that.   So as we leave the crooked band of lands over the water, we want you to join us in Taking Back English. From this day on, we’re banning words that came into English after 1066.   No more ‘pyjamas’, ‘chocolate’ and ‘flowers’. Instead, let’s welcome back ‘sleep rags’, ‘sweet bricks’ and ‘bee traps’.    We’...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • I’ve just been listening to a debate on the radio about Gareth Southgate’s approach to managing England. The thrust of it was that his tendency to tinker with his tactics based on who he’s up against is either: a) brilliantly pragmatic, or b) the end of the world as we know it. At the heart of the debate there seemed to be a tension between flexibility and identity. As in, if you’ve got one, yo...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • Prepare for some heavy-duty boasting. In 15 years, we’ve never once failed to improve whatever metric our client was interested in improving*. We’ve: *       boosted sales *       cut customer complaints *       improved response rates *       increased NPS scores *       changed customer perception *       gotten ‘unheard of’ engagement on social media. All through using language better....

The Writer
The Writer
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  • My youngest brother is, at the tender age of 22, living in his first definitely-not-a-student flat and working in his first ‘proper’ job. In the process, he’s encountering a whole new world of bureaucracy. And bureaucratic language. There’s a problem with the bathroom light in his flat. They’ve been there two months now. It’s still not fixed. It’s now become something of a daily routine: get up...

The Writer
The Writer
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New blog articles detected.

  • Apprenticeships: what’s in a name?

    Last week, they were talking about apprenticeships on the radio in the UK. Apparently, the ‘apprentice brand’ is dwindling. It’s becoming just another word for training. My ears pricked up. At The Writer, we’ve had apprentices for many moons. It all starts with Word Experience. Twenty undergraduates come and spend two days with us, learning how to turn words into work. Then two of them come to ...

  • Why it’s good to learn by doing

    My daughter’s learning to play the flute. And while her squeaky blasts and spit-spraying puffs into the mouthpiece might sound terrible to our neighbours, my more generous ears think otherwise. Which is why, in a moment of proud parenthood, I told a Spanish friend all about her efforts. How she’ll spend forever piecing the parts of the flute together and slotting it back in its velvet-lined case...

  • How can you be clear? Ask an 11-year-old

    Words by Suzanne Worthington Are you already testing your documents to check their ‘reading age’? Well, one company is taking it a step further. I spotted this piece in the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Journal, about a focus group set up by Covéa Insurance. They ran a real-life reading age test Covéa wanted to find out what was tricky to understand in their policy wording. (So they’re alr...

  • Word Experience is back

    Work experience: but not as you know it Hello, we’re The Writer, the world’s biggest language consultancy. We’re looking for students, ideally second-year undergraduates, to come to our two-day Word Experience on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th April. If you like what you read, be sure to send us your application by Friday 24th March. (You’ll see how to get in touch a bit further down.) What’...

The Writer
The Writer
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New blog articles detected.

  • It’s the business word of 2017!

    Every year we go all Mystic Meg and try to predict the word exploding into a boardroom near you any time now. Throughout 2016 we had a few words on our ‘watch list’: the ones we were starting to hear  more and more in presentations and CEOs’ speeches around the world. So this year’s winner is: pivot. (Here’s our Neil talking about it on the BBC’s Wake Up To Money podcast, 39.50 minutes in.) It...

  • How has being different trumped being clear?

    In the past week, a lot has been written about the Trump team and George Orwell. It’s all very interesting to me, as a Brit in New York. What would this classic British author make of the USA’s new president? Not the man, or his policies – this isn’t the place for that. No, what I want to know is: what would the great-grandfather of ‘write like you speak’ have to say about Trump’s particular wa...

  • We would like to apologise

    You might have heard Lane Greene on our podcast talking about the weirdly formal language of airlines. Well, I’d like to invite you to join me on a quick Virgin America flight from San Francisco to San Diego. My TV screen isn’t working (hence the fact that I’m writing this). But there’s no way I can get angry with them, when the flight attendant’s just said to me: ‘I’m really sorry about the s...

  • Seven things clever people taught us about CX

    We had an event the other week where customer experience experts told us what they’d learnt about changing the language of their CX. (Yes, we know the jargon.) They were Jorge Mascarenhas from O2, Jess Poore from British Gas and Shelagh Martin from HSBC, since you ask. If you weren’t there (and most people in the world weren’t), here are a few of their pearls of wisdom. Think of them like ‘Goals ...

  • How to write like The Economist

    The Economist’s language columnist Robert Lane Greene takes down ugly unsplit infinitives, Nerdview and Delta Airlines. And 8 Mile comes to the podcast… kinda. You can listen to it on iTunes and on SoundCloud.

  • What can a robot teach recruiters about writing? (And how can you stop them stealing your job?)

    As our resident HR expert, I’m really interested in the rise of tools like Textio. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a system that, among other things, analyses your language to point out where you’ve slipped into jargon or used words with a certain gender bias. It’s fascinating stuff, and it’s particularly popular with recruiters who want to write clear, gender-neutral job ads. You might wonder...

  • Naming is powerful. It’s tremendously powerful, believe me.

    When we were watching the US presidential debates last week (no, don’t get us started), we spotted something: Donald Trump is great at naming. Bear with us. Crooked Hillary. Lyin’ Ted. Little Marco. Right through his campaign, he’s managed to ‘brand’ his opponents with what he wants us to think about them. And he’s done two things we often recommend to our clients: first, he’s found a recognis...

  • How Google names things

    Have a listen to the latest edition of our podcast, where we talk to Google’s naming guru, Amanda Peterson. She talks about cats, Bundt cakes and keeping secrets. Oh, and the joy and pain of naming stuff for Google. You can listen to it on iTunes and on Soundcloud.

  • How brands make a transparent mistake

    Having a strong, trusted brand is at the top of many marketers’ priorities. But what happens when your whole industry is struggling with an image problem? Banks are still trying to repair trust after the 2008 crisis. Consultancy PwC identify ‘rebuilding trust’ as the number one megatrend for the financial services industry. And others echo that concern. In his column How Can Bankers Recover Ou...

  • Everything is awesome*

    *except for some of the language. It’s 9.30am on a chilly Sunday morning in October. I’m negotiating my way across a gigantic car park with two very excited little people in tow. At last, we reach the gates of the Promised Land (or ‘Legoland’, as it’s otherwise known). And the very first thing I see is this sign: As a writer, it’s basically my job to spot things like this. But, as a customer,...

The Writer
The Writer
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  • Last night, I came home after a long day to find this in my mailbox: Those three words stopped me in my tracks. In the moment it took to open the envelope, my brain ricocheted between emotions. First came concern: had I forgotten to pay my Time Warner Cable bill? Then, sheer panic: WOULD THEY CUT OFF MY INTERNET? And finally, despair. Whatever it was, it was obviously going to add yet another c...

The Writer
The Writer
Blog Post
  • You might have seen that Specsavers has applied to trademark the word ‘should’ve’. And they’re not the first; Carlsberg managed to trademark the word ‘probably’ (and cunningly got round a ban on alcohol advertising at Euro 2016 by using just that world on billboards). They’re both words that started off in straplines and have taken on a (carefully managed) life of their own. And they prove that...

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