Why your business needs to hire a copywriter

We have a running joke in the studio that goes something like this. If someone introduces a new word or concept to the team, one of us will invariably cock our head to one side and with a face scrunched up in confusion, ask, “What’s that? Can I eat it?” Firstly, that phrase captures two important things about The Pencil Box we’d like you to know – (1) we’re an inquisitive bunch, and (2) being paid in food has crossed our minds a few times. Food, delicious food drives us. We’re not going to lie. Lastly, this is pretty much the same quizzical expression clients give us when we offer our copywriting services. Just yesterday, while writing this post, I met a local academic who enquired about my profession. When I asked him what he thought copywriting is, I wasn’t surprised that he thought I practiced copyright law. All praise to the legal fraternity, but copywriters produce purposeful content that connects people to brands in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way. I hope that this blog post will dispel any further myths about what a copywriter is and the role one can play in your business.

So perhaps you’re a small business just starting out. How will you communicate to your desired audience what it is that you offer? If you own a store selling a high-value or complex product you might need pamphlets that explain the benefits in a way that influences your client to consider your brand above the competition. Should you have an extensive line of products, you could need a printed or digital catalogue with engaging product descriptions to encourage customers to invest in your brand. If you have a website, and in the digital age your business might not grow quickly without it, you will need compelling content or appealing product descriptions to keep your customers coming back. From the about section of your website to the clickworthy copy on your mobile ad or the attention-grabbing 140 characters on your Twitter feed (not an easy thing to do), a copywriter can assist.

I hear you saying, “But I can do that myself,” and I agree, you most certainly could. If you have the time and you’re a good communicator, then of course. But most entrepreneurs struggle to run their fledgling businesses and produce the content they need to promote and market their business to the public. You have great ideas, but sometimes, in the craziness of running a business, there’s not much time left at the end of the day to do the necessary. Now I’ve described how a copywriter can add value to your business and listed one important reason why your brand needs one. But just in case you’re not quite convinced yet, here are five more reasons why you should hire a copywriter today.

Copywriters connect with people
Good writers are natural researchers. They make it their business to stay on top of current trends within industries or to learn about industries they might know very little about. Equally important is understanding the human needs your product or service can meet. Understanding your customer means they’ll know how to reach them, wherever they are. They will know how to make your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace – a unique brand with a vibrant personality that people will be drawn to. Yes, brands have a personality and choosing the right tone and style to match it is what copywriters do.

Copywriters get people to act
Copywriters create content with a purpose. And that purpose is always to connect with people and to encourage them to take a desired action. Whether you want people to join in on the conversation on your Facebook page, click through to your website from your Instagram account, download your catalogue, or shop on your e-commerce site, copywriters are skilled in teasing out the benefits of taking that action, making it more likely that people will.

Copywriters can get your product in front of the right people at the right time
Digital marketing is a whole new playing field and one that changes frequently. Copywriters can produce search engine optimised (SEO) copy to help improve your Google page ranking and with time and some spend, get you to that first page. Google now ranks your page for more than just keywords. It ranks for relevance, how long people spend on your page consuming your content and how often and where it is shared. It is a time-consuming and slow job initially, but with a steady stream of quality SEO content produced by a skilled copywriter, you can improve your ranking over time.

Copywriters write to convert
It’s no secret that the primary job of a copywriter is to produce content that converts, that gets traffic through your door, to the till and back again. But the mark of a good copywriter is writing that gets them through your door, but without compromising on principles and brand values. Thankfully, we have moved on from the hard selling advertising of the 60s and 70s. Consumers today are weary of that kind of communication, and they are savvy enough to know when they are being manipulated. They demand transparency, and they want your brand to stand for something more than just profit. Smart copywriters know how to produce copy that converts to sales but to do it with integrity.

Copywriters spot errors
Poorly written content riddled with errors (even just one) can leave a lasting impression and not always a favourable one. Everything about your brand communicates, and a lack of attention to detail can infer laziness or a lack of authority on a subject, which in turn makes you seem less trustworthy. I know this might sound a little dramatic but punctuation and grammar matters and it helps to have a trained eye read over your copy before sending it out into the world.

A copywriter will work alongside you to help you formulate your brand message and ensure that it is consistent across all platforms. This way your customer is never confused about who you are and what solutions you can offer him or her. Now that you have all the facts to make an informed decision, get in touch with us so we can write some great copy for your brand too.



Why branding is important for your business…

If you’re reading this, then it’s crossed your mind and we’re very proud of you for taking a step in the right direction. Picture a room filled with slow clapping, nods of excitement and back patting as you make your way through the room. Welcome to our world, we’re here to help. You may be considering starting your own business, thinking of a brand refresh, or you just want to know what all the fuss is about and whether it really is necessary. Here’s the thing, we’re all about branding and creating a logo that will launch your business into infinity and beyond, but if it doesn’t resonate with your audience, it’s a missed opportunity. Firstly, you’re going to need more than just a logo. Yes, your logo is incredibly important but it’s just the start. Here’s what you need to know about brand creation…

1 Brand personality
This is a biggy but is often overlooked. It’s like meeting a stranger for the first time, you’re a bit unsure if you’ll get along, not knowing anything about them. You can tell by their appearance (we don’t mean to be judgy) if they are somewhat serious, laid back or bright and bubbly. It’s a crowded room, there’s some music in the background, a little chit-chat and five minutes later, you’re either besties, cool acquaintances or you go your separate ways. See, brand personality is exactly that, human characteristics that are attributed to your brand name. It’s a feeling, an experience, a message that evokes an emotion. Get it right and you will attract your perfect audience. What is your brands personality and who do you want to attract?

2 Colour therapy
Colour is powerful. Imagine choosing a wall colour for your home. You experience it every day, you add décor that compliments it and you place pretty pictures against it. Do you see where we’re going with this? Colour holds meaning, it stimulates the senses and can be energising or calming. What attracts you to a certain colour, how does it make you feel and more importantly, how will it communicate something about your business? When working on branding, creating mood boards and colour palettes are essential. It will assist you in creating your desired look and feel and aid in keeping all the elements of your brand consistent. Consistency is key, as it gives your brand a more professional appearance and helps your brand stand out in a busy marketplace.

3 Typography
This topic right here deserves a post of its own. This is where your logo and brand creation begins. Typography is also responsible for the large amount of hours that goes into creating an impressive logo or brand mark. It also contributes to the selection of fonts used across all platforms of communication. There are as many fonts as there are stars in the sky, make sure that your font choice is legible, fresh and won’t date easily. Don’t be scared to try different font styles in the beginning. Being open to suggestions from your design team can spark ideas or a direction you might not have thought of before.

4 Packaging
We’ll be honest, our most requested element for packaging is a sticker with the logo on it. While this is a completely useful branding tool, there is a lot more thought that goes into it. How will your product be packaged beyond that sticker? Will it be boxed, bagged or tagged? Ask yourself, “how do I want my customer to experience or feel about my brand when they receive my product?” All of the above, numbers one to three, need to be considered and implemented to create a consistent and thought through experience. You want the consumer to connect with your brand, and it doesn’t hurt to put a little extra in to achieve that WOW factor.

5 Website
We live in a digital world. We also live in a world where businesses have budgets and website development can be quite pricey. The good news is that there are options available to create websites that fit your budget. WordPress is amazing and we swear by it when our clients shudder at the mention of online presence. It allows you to maintain your own content and make updates when you need to. It also offers e-commerce (online store) options that are easy to use and relatively painless. Word of advice, opt for a responsive website. Most internet users visit websites using their smart phones and usability is very important. Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s all about the brand experience. If your website doesn’t work or if it’s difficult to move around on, chances are, people will get irritated and leave. It is worth spending on your website right from the start.

6 Social media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat… and there’ll probably be something new by the time you read this. Choose the ones that work for you. It is quite time consuming so allocate the time needed to spend on social media, not only promoting your products or services but also interacting with your audience. We offer our clients social media strategies to help ease the load (it is incredibly important to have a plan), and also get the most out of these platforms for marketing. Remember what we said about consistency? It lives here as well, which brings us to our next point.

7 Photography and videography
Visuals contribute to all the points we’ve mentioned and it really is money well spent. You can have the most amazing logo and brand creative but if your images fall short, it puts a damper on the experience. Don’t get us wrong, we are aware that most businesses have tiny budgets when starting out and that budget needs to spread like a little bit of butter across many loaves of bread. When it comes to creating your budget, keep these points in mind. You may not be able to do it right now, but it should definitely be part of your long-term marketing plan. When selling products, bad images have the ability to undermine the way people experience your brand and the quality of your brand or service. We’re haunted by the flashbacks to the good ol’ days when clipart was the order of the day. Photography is part of your visual language and sets the tone for a more professional and appealing product or service. That, and the fact that consumers tend to purchase with their eyes. We’ll leave this here to simmer.

Videography has also stepped into the arena in a big way. It’s important to keep up with the times and the evolving methods of marketing but what is it all about? Story telling. It’s about creating content, telling stories and bringing your audience along on the journey of your brand. Again, it’s all about the experience, interaction, connection and creating an interesting environment your customers will want to spend time in.

8 Set the tone
What’s in a word? A whole lot actually. Your choice of language and tone is what gets the conversation going. Not only do we have designers working on brand creation, but wordsmiths too. Creating a language that makes the connection between you, your brand and your customer. Copywriters play a hugely important role in creating the content and message that goes out into the world. Is it a humorous or a serious matter? Is it factual and how do we say a lot with just enough words so we don’t put people to sleep? Setting the tone and making sure that the information about your service or product is easily understood, and presented correctly, makes all the difference.

So it’s not just about pretty pictures, clever catch phrases and fancy fonts. The art of understanding what your brand is and getting that message across is more than just a logo. It’s a beautiful conversation between your product, your people and your passion! Let’s go tell some stories…


The juniors – just getting started

Hello, my name is Natalie.
Welcome to my world as a recently graduated graphic designer working at The Pencil Box. I was asked to write about my creative journey when I started, my personal experiences and what I’ve learnt along the way. I was super excited about the new challenge, but when push came to shove, I couldn’t think of a single topic to write about. I adore creative writing, but it’s not something that always comes easily. Generating a concept, an idea or even writing a five-word sentence takes some serious brain power. I like to think of a creative block as a period of drought, where the brain cannot produce any fresh ideas. As creatives, we all experience this, even if we don’t like to admit it. During my university years, I often found myself in droughts, and I didn’t know how to cope with this. I would sit for hours overthinking my brief, juggling concepts in my mind but never sharing my thoughts or opinions with others. It just always sounded better in my mind, as soon as I said it out loud nothing made sense, maybe it was just the nerves kicking in. The idea of having a review or a critique completely freaked me out, so the best thing for me was to avoid the lecturer for as long as possible. Isolating myself from everyone because of my creative block didn’t help at all. I struggled with self-doubt in my design process, fighting against myself, jumping from idea to idea, wondering whether this whole creative career was for me.

So starting a new job as you can imagine came with some serious nerves and yes, a little bit of drought.
Here are a few things I’ve learned stepping into the real world as a young graphic designer.

You’re not alone
I realised that everyone faces these anxieties and fears, regardless of where you might be on your life path. It’s comforting to know that you are not alone, and yes you may feel a little crazy, but I bet the person sitting next to you goes through the same thing too.

Mood boards lift the mood 
I love mood boards. It helps me get an overall look and feel for whatever needs creating. It’s a fun yet powerful way to communicate my vision, and it does all the talking for me.

Two heads are better than one
Brainstorming sparks new ideas that you didn’t have before. I love having creative meetups to bounce ideas around or come up with new concepts for future projects. It’s also a fantastic way to get to know the people you work with. You get to see what their strengths and weaknesses are and that makes group work and collaboration that much easier.

Get soaked
Be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can from your creative team and other people who inspire you. Ask as many questions as it takes to understand. Pursue other creative interests that are not necessarily in your field. All will add up to stock your creative well.

It’s just an idea
Share your ideas but don’t get too emotionally attached to an idea or concept. If you feel strongly about an idea though, fight for it but learn when to quit and let it go. It might not work this time around, but you can always bank it for later.

Enjoy the ride
If like me, you’re at the start of your creative career, and like me, you intend to live a long, happy and very creative life, there’s no reason to panic. Just take a breather and go back to the drawing board. Your best is yet to come.

Hi, my name is Qaasiem.
You can call me Q or Kaas (the Afrikaans word for cheese in a posh accent) or anything you choose.
I’m working as an intern graphic designer here at The Pencil Box, and I’m studying Web Publishing and Interactive Media although I’m still not one hundred percent sure what that means yet.

This is what I’ve learnt in my first few weeks in the “real world”.
Design work is time-consuming. From the moment we get briefed to the very last minutes before a deadline we always find ourselves adding or removing things from our designs. Add other responsibilities like studying or family obligation to this and time begins to run out fast. The very first thing our mentors emphasised when I started this internship, was time management. It’s the single most important tool in your daily life, besides being creative. It’s learning to balance not just the workload but also all the other things you need to do to live, like eating, relaxing, socialising, family and sleeping.

It’s all about balance –  trying to find that sweet spot of when to do things and when not to as well. When I learnt about time management in school, it seemed irrelevant and didn’t feel like it would make much of a difference in my life. But I’m quickly coming to learn the importance of time management in achieving anything worthwhile especially career wise. But before this there were many sleepless nights, falling asleep in class, coming in late or just a lack of productivity before I realised that managing my time was the real OG of success.

Today I find myself doing just that – working hard and switching off when I need to. There isn’t a specific algorithm to achieve a successful time management lifestyle, it’s about knowing yourself and your limits and setting healthy boundaries so that you don’t over do it or do too little.

To end off, a quote on time…
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

This is just the beginning of our journeys, we’re just getting started. We invite you to walk this wildly exciting road with us… until our next post.

Natalie & Qaasiem