Not everything should be unique. Not even snowflakes.

In practically every book I’ve read about the advertising business, copywriting or marketing, it says to avoid cliches and always search harder for more original turns of phrase or ways to describe things. Not only does it make your copy stand out and seem fresher, it’s just a real breath of fresh air to see a copywriter put some panache into his or her writing – it shows you’ve got pride as a writer and you’re not just willing to do with “good enough” for your clients. Your clients don’t want good enough. They want great, exceptional, shiny copy – even if they don’t tell you so directly.

In an effort to help myself and anyone else reading this blog avoid these painful cliches, I’m going to start creating entries with the usual suspects and some of my thoughts on how to sidestep them.

So, let’s get started with what I consider to be one of the worst offenders in the world of ad cliches: unique. How many bloody products, services, locations, tastes, smells, tactile experiences and emotions can be unique snowflakes? The answer: not many.

Avoiding calling something unique can seem daunting at first, as it is a benefit that every business wants to tout. Usually my strategy for avoiding it involves finding a sort of backwards way of implying that something has awesome, one-of-a-kind benefits or features without straight-up just telling you so. Tell a story, create some kind of narrative, or make some bold statement about the subject that lets your audience see that this product has a voice all its own and benefits to match.

Some things to try:

  • Talk about the benefit of the product/service in an indirect way
  • Tell a story, create a narrative
  • Characterize the product (doesn’t work for everything)
  • Tell the audience why something is unique or special, not just that it is

So, that’s the gist of it, it’s pretty straightforward. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when using the word unique is going to be the only way to get through something. Don’t avoid using it entirely – just don’t lean on it as the only weapon in your persuasive writing arsenal.