No. 1 )  What you say.

This is the direct part of copywriting—the who, what, where, when, and why that communicate the client’s main messages about their product, service, company, or brand. 

The client is the expert here. Being intimately involved with their brand, clients usually know what it is they want to say about them. If they’re unsure, the copywriter can help the client figure it out, using either an interview or a trial-and-error process or a little of both, but ultimately it’s the client’s job to come up with these messages.

Once the main messaging points are established, however, it’s the copywriter’s job to make sure that each point gets covered in the copy (or to have a pretty good reason for leaving a point out).

No. 2 )  How you say it.

This is the indirect part of copywriting—the part where the actual style of writing helps communicate the overall personality of the client’s brand.

The copywriter is the expert here. Of course, it’s still the client who decides what the personality of their brand should be, but it’s the copywriter who will develop the way a brand with such a personality should talk.

Coming up with this voice means making conscious choices about language, using simple or high-tech words or choppy or detailed sentences, including poetic devices like rhyme or alliteration, and showing some character by being funny, serious, or hip. And it’s these language choices that transform brands from abstract entities into something alive—something a customer can relate to like they would a neighbor or friend.

No. 3 )  Who you’re talking to.

This is the reader of the copy—usually the client’s current or potential customers (AKA target audience).

The client and copywriter are co-experts here. Clients usually know a lot about their target audience—their gender identity, lifestyle, and occupation, even their likes and dislikes or what might motivate them to use the brand in question—and it’s their job to communicate these things to the copywriter. The copywriter, on the other hand, is charged with writing in a way that will resonate with this audience, using words, ideas, or even conceptual devices that they themselves might use.

By “speaking their language,” brands tell customers they understand them and their needs, which in turn encourages customers to build a relationship with the brand.