How copy editing helps you build a strong brand identity

Today more than ever, it’s important to ensure that your personal brand is exemplary. As Forbes magazine so succinctly puts it, ‘It’s no longer a luxury; it’s an imperative.’  The same can be said of your business brand. It’s simply not good enough to be inconsistent in how the public perceives your business – in fact, it could be downright damaging. One way to ensure you create – and maintain – a strong brand identity is to invest in the services of a professional copy editor.

Consider copy editing to be your secret weapon. Copy editors are the people who will ensure that your written business content is grammatically correct, concise and easy to understand. The icing on the cake is that they’ll also ensure that your content adheres to your brand guidelines and speaks with exactly the kind of tone you intend. By creating a strong and readily recognisable brand ‘voice’, the professional copy editor builds brand awareness and customer loyalty – and customer loyalty is exactly what you want.

Behind every written business communication…

…lies a story. But is it the story you want your customers to read?

Think about it. You jot down some thoughts off the top of your head and quickly post them as a blog on your website. Maybe you’re really pressed for time when you compile an important report that’s going up the line to the Board. And what about that tender you were going to go for? Have you had time to carefully consider just how you’ll convey your capabilities?

The scenarios above are all legitimate reasons to employ a professional copy editor. That’s because, if you’re not careful, they each represent an opportunity for a reader to gain a less than ideal perception of your business. Hastily written blog content? Looks and sounds unprofessional. Important report not checked for clarity and clear setting out of your business argument? The Board may deny your request. Tender submission full of typos and incomplete or non-compliant answers to critical questions? You won’t get through the first round.

The 5 Cs of copy editing

But what does copy editing actually involve? Wikipedia sums copy editing up very nicely by referring to it as making sure all your important business communications meet the 5 Cs. Namely, that the writing is:

  • Clear
  • Correct
  • Concise
  • Comprehensible
  • Consistent

Those are all pretty self-explanatory. But let’s just take a moment to dig a little further into number 4: comprehensible

Of all the Cs that might be missed out by a business person writing their own copy, this is the prime candidate. That’s because the individual is, naturally, very close to their subject matter. They may be quite confident that they’re making perfect sense when in fact the opposite may be true.

Bear in mind, we’re not just talking about technical content here, although that can certainly be a real killer to wade through. 

Heavy use of marketing terminology or business jargon can also make wording overly dense, as can unnecessarily flowery descriptions of interior design trends, for instance. If you really want to see incomprehensibility in action, all you have to do is read one of those small white cards next to a modern painting in an art gallery. Talk about abstract!

The point is, whatever your subject matter, to avoid losing their interest your readers must be able to gain an immediate understanding of the message you’re trying to convey, and a professional copy editor will ensure that they do. 

When should I call in a copy editing expert?

If you want copy written from scratch, then call in a copywriter from the get-go.

However, you may already have written your content. In that case, call in the copy editor when you know that it’s not exactly right or when you feel your document could really do with a good polish.

What will the copy editor do?

An expert copy editor will always ask: what is it you want to achieve from your content? Doing so means that you’re on the same page from the very beginning. 

Once they know what you’re aiming for, they’ll edit your copy, re-writing elements of your draft where necessary. If required, they’ll also undertake more substantive copy editing, re-ordering words in a sentence or restructuring content so that the running order of information makes more sense. 

Huge chunks of unbroken text can ‘exhaust’ a reader. That’s why a copy editor will often break up content by creating attention-grabbing headings or sections. It’s amazing how even this one small action can make content that much more palatable for your audience and persuade them to keep reading.

Common mistakes 

Although every business communication is different, there are nevertheless common mistakes that an expert copy editor looks out for. These include:

Spelling and grammar

Incorrect spelling or grammar is a big turn off to most readers. Simple typos, errors in punctuation, differences in naming styles – all these have the power to make your business look unprofessional, dilute your message and put your readers off.

It’s the professional copy editor’s job to catch all of these errors before they’re published and potentially cause damage to your brand.

Inconsistencies

It’s very important that the style and tone of your business communication flows evenly throughout your written piece. If more than one person has contributed to content, it’s more than likely that there will be inconsistencies in use of language or terminology, for example. Similarly, one contributor may refer to the company as ‘our’ and ‘we’ when another may use ‘their’ and ‘they’.  These are exactly the kinds of errors that an expert copy editor will pick up and rectify so the document speaks with one ‘voice’.

Details

Names, dates, places, addresses, telephone numbers, titles – all of these seemingly small details will be checked by a copy editor to make sure your content is of the highest quality. Copy editors frequently conduct research to clarify details and, where that’s not possible, they’ll flag up any concerns for you or your team to address.

Non-adherence to style guide

If your business has produced a style guide, the expert copy editor will ensure that all business wording aligns with your stated preferences.

Ambiguity

Of all the various types of errors that may be in your written content, ambiguity is the one you’re least likely to pick up by reviewing your own work. That’s because you know what you want to say and you think that’s what you’ve said. However, a reader may get quite a different message!

Check out these newspaper headlines as great examples of ambiguity:

  • Mother helps dog bite victim
  • Kids make nutritious snacks
  • Man eating piranha mistakenly sold as pet fish

However, not all ambiguity will be as obvious as these howlers and that’s where the impartial eye of an expert copy editor becomes invaluable. 

Redundancy or repetition

The unnecessary repetition of words, phrases or ideas or the inclusion of unnecessary information can really take away from your intended business meaning. A copy editor has the skills to ensure your message remains clear, concise and focused.

Can my small business benefit from copy editing?

It doesn’t matter if your business has just begun trading or whether you’ve been in business for decades, copy editing to give your words a good polish and make your message clear is always beneficial. 

Remember, you want your words to work for you, not against you. Engaging the services of a professional copy editor will ensure the effective delivery of your content and present your business messages in the best possible light. What’s more, professional copy editing is a great opportunity to receive feedback on your writing, helping you and your team to improve your writing skills.

At the end of the day…

…even the work of the most seasoned of writers can benefit from a review by a copy editor. They’ll not only take the stress out of the process for you but ensure that your important business messages support your brand identity by meeting their intended audience bang on target.

Professional copy editing help is at hand

If you’d like to know more about how copy editing can be of benefit to you and your business brand, why not get in touch? The team at Proof Communications has more than 24 years’ experience in assisting businesses with expert copy editing and we’d like to help you too. Call us today on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 or head to our contact page.    

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