David Branby Advertising Completes Long Beach Airport 2012 Environmental Status Report

David Branby Advertising partnered with airfield engineering firm  Dinter Engineering Corporation of Reno, NV to write and design the 2012 Long Beach Airport (LGB) Environmental Status Report, which will be released to the public this fall. The project, which was six months in the making, required Dinter to gather and analyze data from LGB‘s numerous environmental stewardship initiatives over the past several years. Then, writer David Branby and designer Marc Davis translated Dinter’s data into user-friendly talking points and infographics that the general public could understand quickly and easily. One of the report’s highlights: LGB’s clean-air efforts have reduced total air emissions by 4.58 million lbs. – that’s the same as removing more than 6.4 million car trips from the roads.

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David Branby Tapped To Improve V&A Consulting Engineers’ Key Marketing Tools

V&A Consulting Engineers of Oakland, CA tapped me to fine-tune this civil engineering firm’s key marketing tool: its business cards. Now, that may seem like a funny thing to get all excited about, but the reality is, business cards are actually one of the most under-appreciated marketing tools of all time. How many times have you met someone and taken their business card, and immediately felt a bit disappointed, or even confused about what the person does? It happens to me all the time. In fact, I’m often amazed at how few business owners, marketing folks, or business development professionals actually carry cards! It gets a laugh from them when I point it out, but it’s serious as a heart attack. A great business card speaks volumes about your company, your products, your services, and the value you place in your people. Sometimes, very simply tweaks can make a world of difference for your business. For example, did you know that when an employee insists on having his or her middle initial on a business card, it actually works against them? It’s true! In communications, a little thing like an initial is called “noise,” and what happens is, people focus on the middle initial of your name and forget your first and last name! Is that what you want to happen? I didn’t think so. But to those of us in the marketing business, a quick review of a business card is a great litmus test to see if that company “gets” marketing. When V&A’s Director of Business Development and Communications, Joy Guinn, needed updated business cards, I set to work gently improving the existing brand image of this celebrated cathodic protection engineering firm. What I did was actually quite simple: I enlarged their logo on their business card,  because V&A’s key target are public works officers in their mid-30s, 40s, 50s and better…which means they shouldn’t have to pull out their readers to read the card. Secondly, I added the rest of the company’s official name—Consulting Engineers—that the previous designer from San Francisco decided to leave off on previous versions, most likely for aesthetic reasons…but what’s the point? Without explaining what V&A is, a prospect could think they’re a pawn shop, a meat packing business, the Veterans Administration, or any number of random things. Marketing is about telegraphing your message to people, so why make it difficult for people? On the back of the card, Joy and I added the six lines of business that the firm specializes in, again, to telegraph to folks exactly what V&A Consulting Engineers is all about. Twenty gorgeous sets of business cards later, V&A is driving forward, preserving and protecting America’s infrastructure by using science and technical knowledge to combat the corrosive effects of liquids in pipes, waterways, water-treatment plants, and other related applications. For more information about V&A Consulting Engineers, visit www.vaengineering.com.

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David Branby’s “Confessions Of A Copywriter,” Revisited

By David Branby

I am a copywriter; a wordsmith; a scribe. Working with words is how I survive. I craft, I sculpt, I make pictures with words (though I must admit, sometimes it’s just blurbs) with one goal in mind: To gently urge that reader of mine…

To take action (usually in the vicinity of a cash register); in short, to purchase, to procure, to buy my client’s wares or embrace their ideas, to know their stance or acknowledge their presence. I am a crafter of dreams and a deliverer of details. I am copywriter. I turn words into gold.

I am neither a poet nor a prophet, and yet I deftly weave both into my potent potion so the prospect (in this case, you!) can savor the sizzle and salivate for the steak.

My purpose is simple, my task is complex: Distill my client’s ninety-six copy points (so painstakingly writ) into three or four paragraphs that’re sure to make a hit; and give them a headline that’s snappy and fun; and deliver a benefit to the reader (just one) in a way that’s sexy and creative and POPS; so as he or she meanders through NEWSWEEK, she stops! And reads what I’ve written and writes down the name, and writes down the phone, fax, e-mail, and then…she hops in her Audi, her Bimmer, or Geo, heads for the mall and with nothing but brio, walks into the store and with hardly a thought, whips out her VISA just as she ought, and BUYS the one item I’ve told her about, just as the merchant says, “Wow! Now, we’re sold out!”

I am a copywriter. I turn words into gold.

Now, let me illustrate the power of words in my chosen profession, which is advertising. I’m going to write a part of a phrase, and I want you to chime in—to yourself, or out loud, depending on who’s around) if you know the rest of it. Let’s try a few:

Winston tastes good…(like a cigarette should.)

You’re in good hands…(with Allstate.)

M&M’s melt in your mouth…(not in your hand.)

Nothing beats a great pair of (Legg’s.)

And one of my favorites, which I wrote for The Public Restroom Company in 2011, “Building Better Places To Go.”

Now, some people may call these slogans, but in my line of work, they’re known as tag lines. And most companies should have a tag line, which is kind of like a mission statement for what a company does, and the way that they do it that makes them unique.

A powerful tag line melds all the marketing objectives into one cohesive thought, from positioning to brand image and personality. To put it more succinctly, in the words of legendary copy king Jim Jordan, “the heart and the power of advertising is…a few words so skillfully targeted, so clear in their positioning, so vivid in their articulation, and so memorable in their identification with a given brand…that they become people’s principal reason for buying the brand.”

In fact, we ad writers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to come up with the perfect tag line for a company – because once you find it, you can use it forever. To give you an example, the copywriter who came up with “Everything you always wanted in a beer. And less.” took a brand that nobody liked—Miller Lite—and sold $95 million worth a year to sports fans over the next decade and a half.

The point is, the tag line should always remind the consumer of the key benefit – what’s in it for them. For example, Silver Legacy originally used the tag line “Lucky For You” to market Sam Fairchild’s mythical silver mine in downtown Reno. When the agency I used to work for pitched that account, my partners and I came up with the tag line, “Share The Wealth,” because frankly, I’d rather be rich than lucky any day.

Another example of the copywriter’s art is the use of word play or puns to make a point. The best one I’ve ever seen was an ad for Oakley Sunglasses that showed a pair of the glasses with the headline “A Shade Under $35. The copy went on to explain that the glasses retailed for $34.95. I should note that word plays have fallen out of fashion among copywriters, particularly for headlines, but you’ll still see them in use for taglines. Sometimes, a great play on words can become the principal reason for buying the brand—and some become classics. Think “When it rains, it pours.” (1914) for Morton’s salt and “A diamond is forever.” (1947) for DeBeers, the diamond giant.

Now, as you may have noticed, I used a bit of rhyme in the beginning of this piece, because people tend to remember rhymes, and in fact, great literary masterpieces (such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey) were passed down from generation to generation orally, and one of the reasons they survived was because they rhymed. And so it is with the great literary traditions of our time. Who can forget:

The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup?

Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking?

For all you do, this Bud’s for you?

And so, gentle reader, if you’ll permit me one last time, I will leave you with a rhyme:

If advertising’s my passion, then words are my mistress; and lest this malady cause you much distress, let me assure you as sure as I’m here, the words that I craft for your reading come dear; a hundred an hour give or take a few syllables, a bit more for those who insist on the parable that “nothing well is written once”; and so for those insufferable dunces I raise my take to one-fifty an hour, and write so slowly our relations soon sour; until, that is, they take pen in hand, and decide for themselves (and this, to a man) that writing’s for fools and nitwits and pros, and so their notebooks they quickly close; they pick up the phone and ring me and plead, “How in the world do you ever write a lead?”

I am a copywriter. I turn words into gold.

David Branby originally wrote this piece for a Toastmasters speech assignment in 1995. It has been updated by the author, who still loves writing and public speaking about advertising, marketing, and web development in 2012.

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David Branby Advertising, Inc. Selected To Design 2012 Environmental Status Report for Long Beach Airport

As part of its ongoing mission to find a greener approach to being a better neighbor, Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, California is working with Dinter Engineering of Reno, Nevada to quantify its many air quality, energy efficiency, and water conservation initiatives for inclusion in its 2012 Environmental Status Report. David Branby Advertising, Inc. of Reno, Nevada was selected to write, design, and produce the report, which will be made available to the media, stakeholders, and neighbors of Long Beach Airport later this summer.

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