Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bringing order to chaos

At their core, all products and services are nothing more than meticulously ordered information. Here’s why – and how copywriters help make it happen.

You know those rock star scientist types? Like that NASA guy with the tats and the risqué shirt? Well, there’s a new one on the scene: MIT’s Cesar Hidalgo.

Rocking shoulder length hair and seemingly never snapped without a leather jacket, he’s just released a book entitled ‘Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies.’

It makes the point that our atoms and the atoms around us are equal to those available to cavemen. What’s different is how they’re arranged: that’s information.

A matter of energy
As the title suggests, Cesar uses this fundamental principle to explain how economies grow – which is something we know surprisingly little about. As a physicist, he looks at things differently to economists. To Cesar, the economy’s building blocks aren’t labour and capital. Instead, they’re matter, energy and information. Therefore, to grasp how economies grow, we first need to understand how information grows.

Hang on. This is a copywriting blog, isn’t it?

Bear with me.

 Bringing order to chaos
Since the days of cavemen, information has been sloshing around the universe in a perpetual state of perfect randomness. This information can only be captured and harnessed by flows of energy – that’s people dedicating themselves to things. This creates pockets of order.

A crushed bonnet is still a bonnet
These pockets of order are the products and services all around us. It’s the information embedded and organised within them that gives them their value. The FT article I was reading gives the example of a Bugatti Veyron. These bad boys sell for $2.5 million a pop. But how much would one be worth if you crashed it into a wall and swept up all the pieces? Nowhere near as much. It’s the specific ordering of the information which makes it so valuable.

Enter: the copywriter
This is true for all products and services – and it often takes a collaborative network of expertise and insights to get them there. Copywriters (finally) are a vital node in this intricate network of knowledge. Except we’re not tasked with designing a new spoiler; we’re asked to present this complex order of information so that it’s as logical and appealing as possible to the target audience.
It's just a few rearranged atoms.

To achieve this we need to first gain an understanding of why the information that makes up the product or service is structured exactly the way it is. What insights and breakthroughs led us to this point? Could it work better any other way? If not, why not?

Experience required
Armed with this knowledge, it’s the copywriter’s job to take the mental leap and draw out the rational and emotional benefits for the audience. As we discussed in May, the more experience the copywriter has – both professionally and personally – the better equipped they are to achieve this.

More than the icing

The product plus the copy is more valuable than the product alone. We copywriters add that final sheen of order to proceedings. In the chaos of choice we all live in, this can be absolutely vital. 

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