Apa pun makanannya, minumnya…

Meaning “Whatever the food, the only drink is…”, this tagline brings only one brand to mind for Indonesians. This tagline from Teh Botol Sosro has become a prominent part of the vocabulary of Indonesians, often heard in everyday conversation. The line conjures how refreshing a gulp of their tea is, driving you to buy a bottle. That is the power of well-crafted words.

At its core, writing is the way people communicate. Through writing, we are able to tell stories, share ideas, or explain our intentions, backgrounds, and identities to others. Humans have been doing this for centuries, starting with symbols inscribed on cave walls by early humans in prehistoric times to ancient tablets left behind by ancient kingdoms, up to the 140-character tweets that you posted yesterday.

Different reasons for writing will also create different forms of writing. Novels, diaries, or notes are types of writing created to serve different purposes. In the marketing world, writing is used for communicating identity or other important information that a company or brand wishes to convey to a wider audience. This need gave rise to the practice of copywriting and content writing.

Most people think that copywriting and content writing are the same, but truth is each one is home to different processes, functions, and purposes. In short: copywriting sells or invites, while content writing informs.

The main purpose of copywriting is to encourage the target audience to take a specific action. In advertising and marketing, copywriting serves as an integral part of brand strategy. A copywriter must be able to string words together in a way that touches the reader’s emotion –like a poet, but with eyes on the brand and target audience. Copywriting products can be found on billboards, video campaigns, and e-mails in the form of slogans, jargons, and calls to action. ‘Subscribe here’ buttons and Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ are just two of many examples.

Content writing focuses more on providing comprehensive information and knowledge about a subject to a target audience. Content writing encourages the target audience to better understand the subject for added insight, or even to sway the audience’s point of view on the subject. This writing style is highly influenced by the science of journalism: credible, accurate, and based on facts. Typically, content is found within books, magazines, and journals in the form of an article that may appear in printed or digital formats. Take this very post you’re reading, for example: through this article, the writer has engaged in content writing concerned with sharing information on the differences of copywriting and content writing.

If copywriting is persuasive, content writing is educational.

Both processes are not as simple as they seem. Good copy and content should be interesting and easy to understand, while remaining true to the identity of the company or brand. A copywriter or content writer is required to have in-depth understanding of the product to be communicated as well as the psychology of the target reader. Therefore, both copywriting and content writing development entails long processes, beginning with research, analysis, and concept development. The writer will need to determine the information needed based on the client’s need and industry, collected via research, surveys, or interviews. Once the data is collected, the writer must determine what important information is to be included. How would this information best be summarized in an easy-to-understand format?

Once the above processes are completed, the writing may begin. The writer must determine the most appropriate way of speaking to a target audience because this step determines the image built in the readers’ mind. Copywriters usually mix and match words until they find the most effective copy. Next, the copy will go through the editing process for a review of word selection, suitability with briefs and concepts, as well as the effectiveness of the writing. In content writing, the writer has the additional task of ensuring that the information provided is accurate.

This long process is necessary. In content writing, misunderstandings may lead to misconceptions, as inaccurate copy may hamper the message that needs to be conveyed. Whatever the industry, copy or content is an important part of the brand or company image to elevate its reputation in public.

by Stephanie Pascalita