• Jen Haken

A-Z of Copywriting: J is for Jargon and Jokes

Updated: Dec 21, 2021



Be mindful of who you’re writing to


The main reason why jargon should be avoided is that it risks people not understanding what your product is or how it helps them. We’ll come back to this later…


When copy or content writing, it’s important to get it right for your audience. And when I say 'right', I mean using sentences that are appealing and easy to read. They need to help people understand what your products are all about. This is why jargon rarely helps.


Marketing is all about the constant need to fight with your competitors. Fight to be seen, heard and taken seriously. So you need to use the right words to increase the desire and urgent need for your products, prompting the reader to act, respond and buy.


But being continuously visible and being different from everyone else can be challenging. To cut through the noise, you need to capture your customers’ attention quickly with just a few words – a headline or strapline.


You may need to be a bit ‘out there’. Different. Controversial, even.


Tone of voice – to change or not to change?


It depends. How do you feel your company is progressing? How well is it known and understood? Are sales consistently growing? Perhaps your customers have changed, or they’re not ‘getting’ your current identity, especially if your products have diversified. Perhaps you need to attract a new audience.


That’s when a brand refresh can help you find new customers and increase your growth.


A brand refresh isn’t just changing your logo or brand colours – it’s more than that. It’s changing your tone of voice (ToV) to help attract that new customer type. You don’t have to change completely; you still want to be recognisable to existing customers. Maybe getting more zing and pizzazz into your ToV could help get you noticed more. So targeting your new audience using their language will help them respond and act.


By the way, if you’d like a talented, experienced designer to refresh your brand design while ensuring you’re giving the right message, Designs Like These is the place to go.


Avoid jargon like the plague … except where it counts!


Whether you decide to change your ToV or not, one thing you should avoid in your content and copywriting is jargon. The exception to that rule is when your products are aimed at a specific market that expects to read technical or scientific language.


When you’re targeting a specific audience, using the language they know shows that you’re an expert in their field. That you’re an authority. And it engenders trust in your business.


Knowing when to use jargon really depends on your industry and who your customers are. Using technical terminology will certainly filter out customers you don’t want!


Simple language helps your audience to understand how your product will benefit them and why they need it. Straightforward, economical and persuasive writing offers a vision of how your product helps. Remember the KISS acronym – Keep It Simple, Stupid!


Keep jokes to a minimum


Unless you really know your audience, it’s usually best to avoid jokes. Humour needs to be done with care, or very cleverly. The last thing you want to do is offend a group of people who may otherwise have become your best customers.


On the other hand, if you only want to work with a certain type of person, then go for it. Scatter your marketing with jovial jokes and juicy profanities!


I believe there’s a difference between being ‘jokey’ and using ‘humour’. A big difference. Because humour can work extremely well when intelligently done.


We have seen some very clever ads over the years where humour was used brilliantly. Like the Budweiser ‘Wassup’ TV ads that really boosted their sales. Or the genius John West Salmon ad with a fisherman fighting a bear. Remember the Cadbury’s Gorilla Campaign? I loved that! Here’s a reminder of them all.


And I did giggle at the Vancouver Aquarium poster in the picture above – yes, I have a childish sense of humour!


Need any help with your content and copywriting? Enjoy the writing process, then ask me to edit it for you. Do get in touch!

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