8 brand copy red flags to watch out for

26.10.21 | By Ellie Laffner | branding

8 brand copy red flags to watch out for.

Wave 'em high.

As copywriters, we’re constantly asked to make words sound sexy, punchy, elegant and clever. We’re also asked if our job is similar to copyrighting ©, in which case we say yes and steal their million dollar idea with no legal ramifications. 

But in truth, there are plenty of red flags and language landmines to be aware of as a brand. When done incorrectly, copy can make audiences confused, cringe or worse; click off. 

And with a Twitter feed full of red flags recently (both literally and figuratively) it got us thinking about the ‘red flags’ we see in brand copy all the time; that thing you read that makes you go, “uh-oh.”

And so, here’s a list of copy-wrongs we recommend watching out for. 

Spelling mstakes.

Triple-check it, people. 

Note: if you spot any mistakes in this article, no you didn’t.

Hold the punch (occasionally).

We love a good punch, but if the copy is too punchy - you run the risk of your words losing all meaning, and no longer communicating anything of value. If you're not entertaining or communicating an actual message, then it's a waste of words and a waste of your reader's time.


There is literally no need to scream. Rather your words were loaded than caps-locked. 

Long winded sentences that take too long to inevitably get to their point even though the point could have theoretically and most definitely been made much earlier in the sentence.

According to a study by Microsoft, people generally lose concentration after 8-10 seconds. Blame TikTok or the digital age but the TL;DR remains the same: Don’t waste your audience's time. 

Using cliches ‘till the cows come home.

Don’t get us wrong, we love a good idiom or pun. In fact, our google search history is filled with ‘idioms for’ <insert life problem>. But use one too many and you’ve lost the crowd to banality. Self-control is strongly recommended here.

Not being consistent with your tone, babe! 

Ah, tone of voice. Three words. One massive impact. As the years have gone on, we’ve seen just how important it is for a brand’s success to get their tone of voice right. See: Frank Body, Drunk Elephant, Aesop, Oatly. 

All ownable, distinct, recognisable - with a strong following and even better sales. Consistency is key when it comes to any tone of voice or brand personality. 

Hiding behind extraneous, excessive jargon.

Copy 101: centre your copy around your consumers. Think: Would they understand this? Would they want to read this? Is this of value to them?

The copy-catch 22 is this: Using big, grandiose language is great until you’ve excluded your target audience with words they can no longer understand, all because you wanted to sound ultra fancy.

Simple copy is sexy - and when done right, can still sound luxurious. 

Words are powerful. They can single handedly affect one’s decision and behaviour, so use them wisely. And don’t be afraid to add some flavour. 


Need help with your copy? We can help with that.

Need help with your tone of voice? We can help with that, too. 

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