“The devil is in the details,” they say, but the brand is in them, too. I recently purchased some Rifle Paper Co. Valentine’s Day cards. Of course I flipped the package over and read every bit of copy. To repeat that these cards are printed in the USA (it’s already in the “Made in USA” at the bottom) and to explain how the sets are hand-assembled in their Florida studio does a lot to express the Rifle Paper Co. brand.
None of the copy there in the middle is necessary, but it paints a picture of the company caring about the cards as much as the person ordering them does. This is stationery–a personal, caring touch is what it’s all about! “Studio” brings to life the artistic value of these cards. “Florida” further brings the brand to life. It doesn’t feel like a big, anonymous company.
That’s all to say, the details you choose to include or exclude from your package copy matters. It exposes what your brand cares about and what it stands for. While packaging has a lot of requirements, the copy you put into the empty spaces can have a huge impact.
The key is to carefully select the details. There’s no need to put every single little detail of your brand or company’s story onto a package. And, don’t feel pressured to exaggerate the details in an attempt to make your story sound like you think it should. Every brand and company has a unique perspective and the details will show it and connect with your customer.
It’s true. I fell head over heels for Loveland. The heart-shaped logo. The nickname “Sweetheart of Ohio.” The bike trail and the Little Miami River that run through the middle of the city.
While my husband and I were dating and engaged, we often rode on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which runs right through the cutesy part of Loveland. One summer, we completed the entire trail in sections. Each weekend, we drove our bikes to where we had left off, pedaled 12-14 miles further, then pedaled back, and picked up the following weekend.
The Little Miami River has provided a couple of weekends of fun. Using Loveland Canoe & Kayak’s shuttling services, we toodled a few miles down the river in the kayaks my husband had acquired. And, that’s not to mention that you can wander down to the river from Nisbet Park and wave to canoers and kayakers as they float along.
But, the river and the bike trail weren’t the only points I used when I was convincing my husband that we needed to find a house in Loveland. Sure, they provided support to my case, but the most persuasive argument I could make is that Loveland has a downtown. When you go downtown, you KNOW you’re in Loveland.
Here’s where I need to go back to my home state for a moment. I grew up in Palmer, Alaska. The town is a destination. Every town in Alaska is, because the whole state is a destination. Palmer welcomes visitors—I worked my high school summers at the visitor center. Palmer has a tidy, charming downtown. When you’re there, you KNOW you’re in Palmer. But to even know that a downtown can create this feeling, you need to also be familiar with towns and cities that have come to be without a strong center. They have a sprawl that makes you wonder where you really are. The limits are twisty-turny. And, if this uncentered town or city is located in a populated state, there’s a good chance that “nowhere” doesn’t exist between it and the next municipality. That is, to get to the next town, you don’t have to drive through nowhere in order to get there. (Common for Alaska—there’s a lot of nowhere up there.)
Looking at Loveland’s limits, they twist and turn and I’m not sure they make any sense. The city lands in 3 counties. Which creates unique problems and customized solutions—like the emergency dispatch. But, what I do know is that when you’re in downtown Loveland, you know it’s Loveland. It has a center. And, that’s what I wanted. Even Hyde Park and Oakley, the two Cincinnati neighborhoods where I had previously lived, had centers—their respective squares—giving the community and geography a focus. It’s what I had in Palmer. I wanted a town that wasn’t just the sprawl. I wanted a center.
For February’s Ohio Star quilt block, I gave in to the Valentine’s Day theme. With a name like “Loveland,” the town has no other choice but to celebrate this holiday. I chose pink, red, and white fabrics to create a block that honors the city I have called home for seven of the ten years I have lived in the Greater Cincinnati area. (I’ll break it down for you: two years in Hyde Park; a little over one year in Oakley; seven in Loveland.)
The red and white fabrics I’ve had for several years. It was purchased for craft projects and not for sewing. The pink fabric I purchased for this particular block. At the time, I didn’t pay too much attention to the curlicue pattern, but as I was stitching this block together, I noticed the cheery curves and like how they remind me of Valentine’s Day card flourishes and the curvaceous shape of the iconic heart. Of course, I added a heart to the center. I would have been remiss if I didn’t. I used needle-turn appliqué to attach it.
One of my favorite copywriting techniques is educating the reader. There are a couple of benefits of doing this. Lands’ End did a fine job of it on this tag that was on a pair of jeans I recently purchased.
Here, they’re teaching me what “crocking” means. Surprisingly, I didn’t know what this word meant, even after writing for a fashion e-commerce site for a few years! There really is no need to look it up in the dictionary. The parenthetical expression defines it: “staining of other fabrics or skin.” (For the record, the dictionary definition is “to transfer color.”
The effect of this technique is twofold: the brand gains authority in the readers’ (customers’) minds. As in, I now know that Lands’ End truly understands denim. Second, the readers feel included because they now know this specialized language, too. If the copy hadn’t explained what “crocking” is, the readers may have been confused if they didn’t know the word.
Subtle is key. There’s no need to be patronizing when using this technique and like all good things, moderation is best.
Oh, my goodness! Are you here because you think, maybe, you kind of regret giving your baby the name you did?
See, every once and a while, I check the statistics on my blog. I can see that some people hit right onto my “Baby Name Regrets” post from Google. (I can’t see the search term they used, though.) And, I’ve thought to myself, who is this person? I wonder if they are a parent with all kinds of emotions swirling around about their new baby—including the name they gave him or her.
Sure, I’ve written a guide on how to name a baby, but if you stumbled upon my blog because a little pang in your heart is making you think that you may regret your baby’s name, that guide is not going to help you right now.
Instead, I’m going to give you my best advice as if you were a friend (pretty much the only thing I’m qualified to do).
First, take a deep breath. What’s the name? Okay, what do you think is wrong with it? Alright, I’m not going to disagree with you, because you’re the parent and I’m not. And, this isn’t anything that cannot be handled. Wait, are you thumbing through your phone right now? Is it the middle of the night? Are you feeding your baby? Look, I’ve been there—midnight feeding, thumbing through my phone researching all kinds of things I should NOT have been reading about when I was sleep-deprived. (Seriously, don’t ask about the crazy shit I obsessed over.) Nothing sounds right when you’re in that hazy, sleep-deprived, post-partum phase of parenthood. Maybe you should just put your phone away. Go ahead. Just keep pressing the button that will make it shut off.
You’re still here. So, in the light of day, your baby’s name doesn’t sound right to you. What about the middle name? Do you like it? Call him or her by that name. Lots of people do it. First initial, middle name, and last name looks and sounds sophisticated, not to mention mysterious!
How about initials? What are they? T.J., M.J., K.K., D.D. (totally cute version of Deedee for a girl!)? Initials can work on a daily basis and are personable and fun! (I ended that with an exclamation mark just to prove my point.)
A nickname? There are plenty of people who go by nicknames that are unrelated to their given names. I once met a guy who went by the name of a piece of construction equipment. (I’m not going to say it here to maintain privacy.) I don’t know the story behind it, but he seemed to be getting along well in life. I’ve know other well-adjusted adults who go by nicknames related to their real names, too.
Trust me when I say that babies grow into their names. It’s weird calling a tiny human ANY name. They just arrived here! And, it’s not like they stuck out their hand and introduced themselves, which totally makes accepting a person’s name a lot easier. Some parents choose an “adult-sounding” name and yet the baby is cute, adorable, and, well, an impossibly tiny human being. I often think it must have been weird to see my parents address their baby as “Theresa.” (My name, if you didn’t catch the header of this blog.) My name seems grown-up to me and not very appropriate for a baby. (I can only assume I was cute and adorable.) Maybe my parents thought so too, because I had a slew of nicknames growing up.
Please recognize that you just may be in that post-partum fog. Again, I’ll reference the irrational Google searches I conducted and fretted over when both my kids were fresh from the womb. But also, rest assured that legal name changes ARE possible. Here’s how to change a name in my area. (Who knew that it was that local of a process?) If you know in your heart that you need to change your baby’s name, try searching “how do I change my baby’s name in (your state).”
Good luck! And, don’t worry. Shit happens. All that matters is how we handle it. And, if that gorgeous baby you just BIRTHED (or just became the PROUD father/mother/parent to—I’m trying to cover all the ways you can become a parent here) is any indication, you are absolutely doing it right!
I raised my left hand and motioned with my right to my barely 4-month-old wedding band topped with my engagement ring, “Anchor husband. I’m not going anywhere.” I was interviewing with a trio of recruiters at a creative staffing agency about what I wanted to do in my career. They had suggested tapping into a network in Cincinnati that had ties to Seattle, Washington, as a way to get back to the Pacific Northwest. That is, return to Portland, Oregon, the city that had not too long ago spit me out, landing me in Cincinnati.
See, a mere month, maybe month and a half, after I married my husband, I was laid off from the job that brought me to my husband’s city in the first place. Early on in our courtship, my husband and I had one of those deal-breaker conversations. I had mused about how exciting and fun it would be to pack up and move to Minneapolis or Seattle or Portland—Maine! He seemed confused. He asked why a person would ever want to move to a place where they didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any family. (A very Cincinnatian perspective, I’ve since learned.) I laughed. That’s exactly what I had done in the past 2-or-so years. I moved blindly to Atlanta, Georgia, where the only thing I knew for sure was that I was enrolled in a school. Ditto for Cincinnati, just swap “school” with “job.” He didn’t say “never,” but placed the caveat that family (his or mine) would have to be nearby, narrowing the options to Alaska and Florida. Maybe Texas?
Thing is, while I often tell the story of this deal-breaking conversation, it wasn’t difficult to let my wandering daydream float away. Sometimes I wonder if my drifting, road-tripping phase—a short couple of years—was just put-on. As if I was trying on a hat and my husband helped me to realize that it wasn’t quite right for me. I have been happy and comfortable living in the same area for 10 years.
My husband keeps me here. “I came here for a job and stay for my husband,” I quip often. He’s my geographic anchor, but an anchor in many other ways, too. He’s kept me steady and has, at times, been a voice of reason when my own messy mind has tried to distract me from what is true and right.
I signed the lease on my first Cincinnati apartment in January, on my husband’s birthday. I didn’t know that at the time, because I didn’t know him. It seems fitting that my official Ohio residency started on his birthday. And, so, it also seems fitting that my first Ohio Star quilt block, January’s block, represents my husband.
My husband has pointy elbows and has torn holes in a few sleeves of his work dress shirts. I have had them piled in my crafting area, because while they’re unwearable (for work), there is a lot of usable fabric. I chose two blue shirts, one light and one dark, because I think blue is his color. The block came together easier than I thought it would, seeing that it’s my first Ohio Star. I was impressed with the way my seams match up and I’m pretty pleased with myself. Ha!
When I showed my husband the block, he called it a “cubicle quilt,” because the shirts remind him of going to work. Which, is kind of a bummer. No quilt should remind you of work, unless your job is quilting, of course.