How to make short copy work

Written by Chris Tapley

Brand voice is about more than pithy headlines. The real interactions with your customers tend to happen in smaller ways, when they visit your site to search for something specific or to contact your support team.

This is when the grand messages fall away and you need to get in amongst the nitty-gritty of validation tags, search bar instructions, and contact forms. You should always make an effort to convert the mundane to the delightful.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few good examples we’ve spotted recently. 


We manage our day-to-day schedules in this nifty agency support tool. And they’ve clearly thought about UX, because it looks great, works super intuitively and has loads of neat little nuggets of copy like this...


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This ‘mission control’ screen lets you choose what kind of data shows on your dashboard. Graphs, charts, data, all that stuff. A snoozefest for most, right? But they’ve had some fun with it, dividing the options into personality types with humorous descriptions. This engages the reader, pushing them to reckon with the best tag for them.

And the icing on the cake? Switching that ‘Okay’ button for ‘Roger’. *chef’s kiss* 


Film nerds? Us? Guilty as charged. That’s why some of us keep track of the films we want to watch in the Letterboxd app. This is a classic case of a small bit of copy going a long way in connecting with the audience.


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If your review history is empty you’ll see one of these quotes. There are loads more, these are just a couple of our favourites. 

This small touch is great, because it could so easily say ‘you haven’t left any reviews yet’. Instead, it seizes that opportunity to engage with the reader and reaffirms why they like the brand – it’s for film lovers, by film lovers.

Kudos to anyone who can identify the movies quoted in these examples.*


We love a snug-fitting chino at Blackad. That led us to Spoke, who make ‘em just how you want. And their brand voice reflects that attention to detail.

It’s not just in slick product descriptions either, but in the little places where lesser writers would have stuck to the norm.


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This landing page has a few things going on. One small section which does a lot of work is just under the ‘Get Started’ button. By making it clear at the outset that it only takes 60 seconds to complete, you can sway hesitancy to conversion. Simple, clear and to the point. Likewise, the footer that kicks ‘accept all cookies’ to the kerb in favour of what most of us think when we press the button – ‘fine’. 


Bandcamp has a clear mission: make it easy to buy music directly from the artists. And they know their audience too…


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On the app’s search page here, they could have had no copy. Or they could have listed some popular searches. Instead they speak to their key audience ‘the music obsessive’ – millions of tracks to discover exactly the sort of appetite-whetting morsel they want. A small but vastly pleasing touch.


This lot knows what they’re doing when it comes to brand voice. If we had a meatball for every example of them getting it spot on, we would have far too many meatballs. So it’s no surprise to see them making the best of a bad situation...


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With a simple dash of Swedish, this simple message is injected with their familiar sense of joy. All of a sudden we can’t wait to buy some Billy bookcases. 

Want to chat about your site microcopy? Get in touch. 

* The films are The Fifth Element, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, and Gone Girl.