We’ve all heard of the KISS principle: keep it simple, stupid. It’s a design approach coined in the 1960s championing simplicity as a key goal of design. It’s a basic and logical approach – most systems work best if they are kept simple, so unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
The same is true for good copy. Copywriting is about communicating a message. Good copywriting communicates a message clearly and concisely. Great copywriting does it in an engaging and compelling way.
So while you might think you need to use big words and long clever sentences to help you say what you mean, the opposite is true. Plain language is actually much more powerful. Pucker up, let’s look at why.
Plain language copywriting is easier to read
We’re all pressed for time and usually have multiple things on the go at once. Maybe you’re reading this blog while you’re on a phone call or cooking dinner (or let’s face it, on the loo). It might have your interest but maybe not your full attention. The second you hit a little roadblock, like a complicated word or phrase, you might stop. You scroll on to the next post or move on to the next task. We’ve lost you.
Plain language copywriting keeps the eye happily skipping from one word to the next. Before you know it, you’re at the end. Job done.
It’s easier to understand
Lots of words mean the same thing, or near enough to it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a bigger word, or a more sophisticated word, is better. Generally, it’s not. Everyone’s vocabulary is different, so you run the risk of using language your reader finds confusing or doesn’t understand.
Plain language is exactly that – plain. We all understand it, we all use it. In other words, it’s relatable. And when your audience relates to your brand, it’s so much easier for them to engage with it.
Complex language adds a lot of fluff to your copy and dilutes your message. Why say utilise when you mean use? Why say purchase when you mean buy? Plain language is clear and encourages action. Bigger words are a distraction – they take longer to read, slow down your copy and make the reader’s job harder. And that’s not good for anybody.
And it’s easy to give personality
You might be thinking this all makes sense, but if you use plain language, won’t your copy be boring? And how can it capture your brand voice?
Easy. Plain language is the perfect framework for your brand voice. When you’ve got the basics right, then you can make language choices that make your brand shine through. You can still add colour or light and shade to your words. You can play with pacing and structure. You can be creative. But it’s all on your terms – and that gives your words power.