"I love reading copy filled with trademark symbols and at least one five-word product name in every other sentence," said no reader.
The purpose of writing -- any writing -- is to engage the reader and convey meaning. Think about those two key words.
Imagine being at a social gathering, and you spy Bob across the room. You've been wanting to talk to Bob for weeks about this idea you have that could help him. So you nudge and muddle your way through the crowd, make eye contact with Bob, step up to him, and engage.
You keep your head down, voice almost robotic, and murmur, "Hello, Bob. My name is Whatever. I am from That Other Group. I think you would be pleased to hear about an idea of mine. I call it the Idea of Considerable Potential, but please don't use that name yourself as I'm trying to keep it for my own."
Naturally, Bob is already looking at the exit, convinced that you're socially awkward at best, probably a hopeless bore, and possibly a bit imbalanced.
I nearly can hear you from here. "Wait," you're thinking (loudly). "You said I engaged Bob. That's not engaging! That's fizzling with failure!"
Exactly right. So why, then, would you ever release a piece of writing of any kind with the same awkward, lackluster approach? Are you intentionally trying to push readers toward the exit?
Just yesterday, I received a blog post draft back from a client. The project manager had left nearly all of my content alone, but she'd inserted about a dozen trademark symbols (on her own brands, mind you, not those of other mentioned companies) and expanded all of my product model mentions out to their legally approved, grossly distended dimensions.
I cringed while reading it. Do people use trademark symbols when they talk? And for crying out loud, did anyone in casual conversation ever pronounce all seven words of "Microsoft Windows XP Media Server Edition 2005"? No, it was just "WinXP"!
You want to engage. You want to convey your meaning with concise, powerful effectiveness. You want to look Bob right in the eye and say, "Bob, I'm so glad to meet you. If you've got a quick minute, I'd like to share something that could make a real difference for your group."
While mulling over my project manager's additions, I went to Apple's site to look for similar marks and nomenclature in their product pages. Guess how many I found.
One -- the copyright 2015 fine print down at the very, very bottom of the page. Otherwise, nary a trademark symbol or lengthy product name to be seen.
BMW follows a similar approach on its site.
And so on. When you read the content of those companies, it flows. It's natural. It sounds like a friend talking to you. It's real.
Is it any wonder that their content is so effective? To the reader's eyes (and inner ears listening to the brain read that text aloud), naturally written content feels trustworthy. Shuffle up to someone and stick a bunch of legally sanctioned prose under their nose, and you'll instantly lose that person's attention -- perhaps even their future consideration.
I'm not a lawyer. I've never studied the whys and wherefores of legal brand use. But I'm going to take an educated guess and say that such stilted measures are no longer necessary in today's marketing copy.
So for the love of all that is good and legible, please...be real. Write to your customer as if you were trying to make a new friend. They might just reciprocate.
William has been working in the tech field since 1991, when he began his long journey through working for a manufacturer's rep, being a distributor, moving into retail and corporate sales, shifting into journalism, and gradually transitioning into content marketing. In 1997, he sold his first articles to local computer magazines. By 1998, he was a full-time tech freelancer and now produces content for several of the industry's top companies.