by Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva®

No, not for creativity’s sake. Creativity can never be too creative. That’s a flagrant oxymoron. But can an over-the-top creative approach to copy impair your conversion rate from event attendance or visitors to your Web site? Unfortunately, it can. Especially when you are communicating to people and markets that are conditioned to a common language. Does this make me happy? No, it frustrates me. One my greatest joys is writing, thinking, and doing things that are creative, fresh, and different. But, I am a businessperson and attracting people to consume my company’s brands is a priority.

Last week I was traveling to New York City to speak to a Scandinavian hotel group. My flight was canceled and I had time to pick up the Wall Street Journal. To my surprise, on the front page of the Personal Journal section was an article about my boss, Becca Cason Thrash, from my first marketing job (I was 22).

Becca is quite a success in her own right. She was born into a regular-class family that lived in a less-than-glamorous small Texas town. In the early ’80s she built one of the leading PR event firms in Texas, and later co-founded The Paper, a very chic, fashion, and social publication. Today, through lots of hard work and creativity, she has earned the brand of international socialite and philanthropic giver. I’m proud of her and her achievements.

The article, ironically, was about creative copy on invitations and how even relatively creative people didn’t get the message. The article was entitled, “Uncreative Black Tie, Please; The End of Goofy Dress Codes.” Becca had just produced a history-making event at The Louvre in Paris. Her elegant invitation read: “dress code—high black tie,” which was intended to ward off the simple short black dresses and encourage the full-glam garb. Instead it got floods of calls, “What is high black tie?” The return to clear instructions is back in vogue. Which brings me to Web copy. Simple, straightforward copy like street signs works best.

Think of a Stop sign that reads: Politely Pause or No More Gas.
Think of One Way sign that reads: Preferred Path or Go With the Flow.

This does not mean don’t be creative. This does not imply following the pack. It does mean be smart with your action words. Be clear on your guidance and your instructions. Make it easy. Get ’em in the door to your site or your place of business. Then, deliver an awesome experience that’s memorable, distinct, and well-branded.

About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She is has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos, Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of, an idea engine for creative professionals and business. Her work has benefited large and small organizations in the United States and around the world.