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‘Microstyle’ – the tone of voice that never was?

We recently rediscovered ‘Microstyle – The Art of Writing Little’ by Christopher Johnson, a book that champions no-nonsense copywriting. The word ‘microstyle’ refers to the short and concise tone that brands use in their communications. However, the book also elaborates on using these methods for personal messages.

Something we noticed while taking another look at the text is that the word ‘microstyle’ has never seemed to take off in marketing. A quick online search provides plenty of results for the book and reviews, yet very few comments, blogs or articles appear to reference the style itself with that word.

The tiny sentence is used to great effect in poetry, comics, and speechwriting – examples repeatedly shown in the book. This approach is especially true for the latter, when the ‘soundbite’ message can be crucial to media coverage. Short lines are also favoured for online communications and website copy, catering to the fabled short attention span of browsing consumers.

The need for direct messages hasn’t changed in the time since the book was released. In fact, we’re seeing more brands cut down their copy. Ads that use microstyle writing to quickly get the point over are popping up everywhere. TSB, for example, is proclaiming their new status as a separate bank from Lloyds Bank with a simple ‘Hello’.

Our copywriters might not always love the introduction of a brand new word, but this one makes a lot of sense. It’s a style with a micro size – clear and simple wins yet again. One of the book’s chapters even covers bringing your own creation to our ever-bigger vocabulary. So why didn’t microstyle strike a chord with advertisers and marketers? Leave a comment below or tweet @strattoncraig to share your view.

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