Oxford’s Christmas branding project is a gift

Modern Copy website for Oxford's Christmas event

The Oxford’s Christmas website by Modern Copy








Cities like Oxford come alive at Christmas. That’s the magic that Modern Copy invested into this year’s ‘Oxford’s Christmas‘ festival, with branding, website creation, content strategy and copywriting. The branding began with a paper-cut motif that runs throughout the identity with accents of Oxford’s greatest landmarks, and with associated branding for the popular Light Night Festival that kicked off the 8-week Christmas period in the city. You can even buy lots of gifts and cards featuring the brand here. The website is also a clever tool to build your own itinerary, collating information across the dozens of participating cultural and shopping venues in the city. Modern Copy worked with our own team of designers, developers and illustrators to bring the project in on time and on budget, and with a tone and personality all of its own.

Magvault.com white paper on digital magazines

A page from magvault.com

What Magvault looks like












Modern Copy have been assisting with content for the launch of Magvault.com, a new online portal for digital magazines. Owner Neil Morgan, who pioneered the use of networked data for Reuters back in the 1980s, is something of an Internet pioneer. The site makes it simpler, faster and cheaper to find your digital editions, and we think it’s great.

We came up with a comprehensive content strategy for launch, which is staggered over an 8-week phase and reaches out to consumers, industry insiders, journalists and bloggers in different ways.

One of our favourite pieces so far was this white paper on digital magazine discoverability – a major issue for many users of Newsstand and App Stores. Read the Magvault digital magazine article

Rhetoric is the art of selling your thoughts with words

Copywriting, like journalism or content marketing, is about persuasion. You have to use certain tools to get ideas across successfully, whether it’s a website or a brand marketing campaign you’re writing.

So, a quick post for today. If you want to know anything about how words work, read up on the ancient and esteeemed art of rhetoric. Once you get over the fancy names for techniques and get to grips with examples, you’ll realise how persuasive it can be. You’ll also realise how you’ve been hearing these techniques all your life. You’ll then wonder: did the people using them realise they were doing it?

You can get lost in these so easily. so sit back and enjoy a comprehensive guide for free at The Forest of Rhetoric.

Making brand stories benefit the reader


Whether you’re writing lovely long-form advertising copy or a website page that explains your brand story, you should always make sure the story doesn’t overshadow the purpose: to make the user benefit in some way. It’s fantastic to hear that your bank is ancient, esteemed and rolling in dough, but so what? You’re still like the rest of them.

TSB, the unpacked and de-risked bank which was split from Lloyds and relaunched recently, have got it right.

They keep underlining the importance of history to their brand, and the values that the story is made from. But crucially, they make sure it connects to you. There’s a benefit here – your local economy is going to thrive thanks to TSB. Whether it actually does or not isn’t the point – the point is that TSB has detoxified itself and set itself apart from the villains we’ve come to know on the high street.

Check the adverts and the web copy and see how nicely it flows together, using very slightly different ways to say the same thing, but always keeping the narrative flow and tone gentle. When you next write copy, can your story turn into a benefit for everyone like this?



Three rules of good writing

Rules of good writing should help you with anything, from reports, presentations and website creation all the way through to naming and strategy. Finding the set of rules that work for you is essential.

An item came on the news today as I drove to work. British director Christopher Nolan took just 15 minutes to sell his Batman franchise idea to Warner Bros executives. Even though he’s an established figure, and a safe pair of hands, to take a profitable movie series like Batman and twist it to your own plans – it’s a lot to ask in just a quarter of an hour.

The Radio 4 segment quizzed Christopher Hauge, author of Sell your Story in 60 Seconds, and he underlined two ideas that are worth remembering when you’re writing anything.

1. Keep it simple

2. Use a narrative

It seems like it’s so easy, but is it really? How do you strip out what you don’t need and still keep a narrative fresh and interesting? That’s the skill, and it’s easier with practise. When you’re writing presentations, brand strategies, and especially web copy, you need to tell simple stories that can come alive. I’d add one last piece of advice to the list:

3. Be straight

That means honesty, being unpatronising – and being direct. People sniff out weakness when you break this rule – and that means they don’t trust what you’re saying.

Apostrophe, not catastrophe

How to make bad apostrophe use even more obvious

How not to use your apostrophe

Apostrophe misuse is a strange thing. You feel like a pedant, but you know it’s doing good for the world. It’s more like the offside rule than anything else: people seem to understand innately what should be done, but somehow expressing it neatly causes a major case of the shakes.

Raise your glasses – not glass’s, please – to the simplicity of the rule that is expressed by the Dreaded Apostrophe website. All you need to remember is this: use an apostrophe when a letter is missing. Of course, there are caveats. But the major exception is explained by the website in an understandable way, even though it goes all the way back to Chaucerian English and Germanic word roots. Don’t be scared off, it’s the kind of thing you’ll never forget. Unlike the offside rule.