Going through the user guide for my new Chromebook, it’s immediately apparent just how far the world of corporate copy has come from the stilted, strangulated officialese that disfigured the language for so long.
‘you get the gist’….’other stuff’….excellent. Clarity, simplicity, a human voice. It took awhile, but vacuous polysyllabic pomposity seems at last to be on the retreat.
Came across an interesting site last week, essentially a direct-sales operation for a DIY brewing device:
What’s interesting? It’s the first site I’ve come across that’s basically an ad on a loop: the offer, reduced to its barest essentials and presented using a handful of slick images and a few carefully-chosen words. The onus being on the browser to dig, if they want to find out more.
It brought to mind a project from maybe 30 years back, working on a brochure for Michael Peters Design, who’d recently done a retail project in Japan for a top British clothing brand. In stark contrast to Japan’s then-ubiquitous practice of stuffing every available cm of space with goods, the designers had used a stand for a single jacket or a shirt, a shelf for a pair of cufflinks. The ‘standout’ from the usual clutter instantly established a singular look and feel: one of calm, confidence and sheer class.
Less, as they were once fond of saying, is indeed very often more.
Talking with a friend over lunch today about the value of brevity in communication and he described going to the Union quite soon after his arrival in Cambridge, to see a debate featuring, among others, Lord Lever and Norman Lamont. Lever proved a very nervous public speaker, gabbling his words while his notes shook visibly in his hands. After a few minutes, Lamont quietly handed him a piece of paper. From his vantage point in the balcony directly overhead, my friend saw that it bore three words, in clear block capitals:
His Lordship took note; the remainder of his speech was a vast improvement.