Digital Portsmouth Recap + Those Branding Questions I Mentioned

The Art of Copywriting

The Art of Copywriting

Last night I was honored to be a speaker — along with Quiana Agbai and Crystal Paradis — at Digital Portsmouth‘s event, “The Art of Copywriting.”

Now if you regularly give talks to large crowds, speaking in front of 100+ of your peers is probably no big deal. But what I regularly do is sit alone in a room writing. So getting in front of a big audience was pretty intimidating.

As such, I wrote my talk about a week in advance and forced my husband to listen to it several times. He knows a lot about “The Art of Nomenclature” now. Which, if you saw my talk, you’d know was just a fancy way of saying “naming.”

I want to give a big shout-out to the other two speakers, who were just fantastic. (And nice job promoting it, Josh Cyr and Monte Bohanan.)

Quiana, who blogs at Harlem Lovebirds, talked about how to promote what you actually spent all that time writing. Tip: You need a distribution strategy that goes beyond “Get Beyoncé to tweet about it.”

Crystal, meanwhile, weighed in on how to write for other people consistently, expertly and without going crazy. Learn more about the importance of style guides, the benefits of multichannel immersion and why it’s critical to keep writing for yourself at

Last night, I mentioned I’d give anyone who was interested the branding questions I use to get to the “personality” of what you’re naming. Well, why not just put it online right here? Enjoy!

Hired Pens Branding Questions

  1. How would you describe your company in three to five words?
  2. How would you explain your company to a five-year-old? (I know this sounds like a really silly question, but I love to ask it because it often offers more insight into the heart of the brand than any other question.)
  3. What’s the “big problem” you’re solving?
  4. Who might be your typical customer(s)? Consider education/income level, urban vs. suburban, age, etc.
  5. What do you think are your strengths as an organization?
  6. What are your weaknesses?
  7. Who is your closest competitor(s)?
  8. What are your strengths/weaknesses compared to them?
  9. What kind of “voice” would you like your company to have (e.g. fun and playful, smart and serious)?
  10. What other brand voices do you admire?
  11. “I dislike brand voices that sound _______.”
  12. How do you want people to feel when they visit your website? (Choose four words.)
  13. If your brand were a person, how would you describe him or her?
  14. If money were no object, who would be your ideal spokesperson (and why)?
  15. What are the three to five most important things you’d like a potential customer to know about your product/service?
  16. If you could take a shot at an elevator pitch, what elements would you touch on? What essential messages would you aim to communicate in 60 seconds or less?
  17. Which adjective are you? (Feel free to include reasoning or just highlight one.)
  • Conservative or progressive?
  • Urban or outdoorsy?
  • Casual or professional?
  • Funny and playful or serious?
  • Big or small?
  • Leader or underdog?
  • Stylish and fashionable or plain and practical?
  • Thrifty or affluent?
  • Outspoken or reserved?
  • Dynamic or stable?
  • Predictable or surprising?
  • Stable or fluid?


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