Copy trends


At Sherlock, we’re always studying trends: design trends, copy trends, retail trends and food & drink trends.

As part of our research for a recent rebranding project, we came across a copy style that we really like, that we’ll call the ‘three-word staccato’. It’s a style that is used across sectors (food & drink, clothing etc.) and mediums (digital, packaging, in-store displays) and is typically used as a motivational strapline or campaign slogan. See our five examples on the left, copy as follows:

Read. Watch. Listen. (New York Times)

Wear. Love. Share. (GAP)

Reduce. Reuse. Refill. (retailer Eat 17)

Life. Faith. Meaning. (Alpha International)

Grow. Cook. Enjoy. (‘Free from’ food brand, Nourish)

Here are five reasons we like this copy style:

1) It’s flexible. Because it relies on just three words, it can be used in many contexts, with the chosen words changing the feel or point of the message. In one sense, it’s an off-the-shelf copy style i.e. ‘[insert three words here]’. Whilst identifying the three words might not be an easy exercise, a longer copy style would likely require more fine tuning to get it right.

2) It delivers impact. By its nature, the style is short, sharp, and to the point. It ensures there are no connecting words, and no waffle, to get in the way and potentially dilute the message.

3) It’s a good discipline to practice. Using the style is a great way of distilling your brand more generally. The process of coming up with your three words – and the use of them – can be useful as an exercise in really nailing your brand ethos.

4) It’s economical on space. It’s almost too obvious to mention, but it’s clearly a good choice where space is at a premium.

5) It can be descriptive or motivational depending on its purpose. For example, a triathlon operator might use, ‘Run. Cycle. Swim’ or a vegetable manufacturer which owns its own farms might use, ‘Grow. Harvest. Process’ to describe what they do / the nature of their business. In contrast, a campaign to encourage more graduates to enrol onto a trainee teacher course might use, ‘Encourage. Empower. Inspire.’ Or a campaign to encourage civilians to report suspicious activity to the police might use, ‘Record. Contact. Inform.’

Share Insight

  • ”You completely nailed the project.”

    Philip Barnes - General Manager, Standen House & Garden

  • “Since Sherlock began our rebranding, The Mulberry Bush Organisation has raised more money, has increased the children’s referrals from Local Authorities so that we now have a waiting list, has attracted celebrities... and has hugely raised our profile among the professionals.”

    Jane Smiley – Head of Communications, The Mulberry Bush Organisation

  • ”Our project had a tight turnaround time, but Sherlock showed a quick grasp of the brief, and provided excellent customer service, flexibility and professionalism.“

    Kate Anderson - Projects and Office Manager

  • “We are thrilled with Sherlock’s work – it did absolutely everything we were hoping for... we’re particularly delighted by their attention to detail... They have also read the space very well which, although it’s a blank canvas, needed to be carefully considered...”

    Emily Hogan - Development Manager, Little Green Pig

  • “Sherlock have been brilliant to work with, very flexible, creative and have enabled us to marry the brand with our key exhibition spaces so our story is continuous.”

    Karla Barnacle-Best - Chief Executive, Discover Children‘s Story Centre

  • ”We have found Sherlock creative and responsive, delivering design solutions which fit the brief but also pushing its boundaries. They have always been there to help us out when we needed them and have always managed to maintain a friendly and funky working relationship with us.”

    Sally Ann Lycett - Director of External Relations, De La Warr Pavilion

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