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  • Writer's pictureHayley Cherrett

7 opportunities to turn boring into brilliant

Updated: Feb 28

I’d just inhaled a sharing bag of Maltesers when I read it – ‘everybody likes a nice bottom’. I smirked then chucked the packaging in the bin. I know it’s nothing new. Innocent and other brands do similar things already. But it made me think: what other small opportunities do brands have to add value?

Your readers have next to no attention span. They skim read and search for the information they need. True. But they’re also human. They have a sense of humour (well, most of them), seek approval and sometimes need reassurance. Above all, they’re curious. They find it hard not to read snippets of copy just because they’re there. And this creates small opportunities. They’re not all as fun as packaging. But even the boring bits can be a chance to add a bit of brand value. A bit of fun copy about a mind-numbingly dull topic can spark a connection and show readers what your brand is all about. To give you a head start, we’ve summarised some of the small opportunities in dull places many brands miss:

1)    Privacy policies

Is there anything more mind-numbingly boring than a privacy policy? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t small opportunities to personalise it and turn it into brilliant copy. take a subtle dig at jargon-filled policies and illustrate the purpose of their brand.

Graze keep theirs straightforward, but use it as a chance to highlight the products they offer.

Honestly, most people will still ignore your privacy policy and click ‘accept’ automatically. But if it’s there, and they see it, they might read it and admire your effort.

2)    Error 404 messages

Error messages are frustrating. But they’re also an opportunity. Hopefully your website won’t break. But in case it does, be prepared with a message that shows you empathise with your audience and the situation. They don’t care that it’s Error 404. They just want to find the information they need. So skip the explanation of what’s happened. Instead, find a way to turn an annoying situation into something human that makes your reader forget their frustration. I love this one from Pixar (even if they do mention Error 404). They use a character and a film reference. It works because they know their audience.

While this approach won’t work for every brand, you can at least make your apology sincere, offer a solution and keep your tone of voice consistent. Emirates do this well. They’ve added a tiny bit of travel-related copy and helpfully nudge readers back to other parts of the site.

3)    Twitter bios

While brands pour creativity into their feed, it can be easy to forget the smaller opportunities that capture your readers’ attention. For example, every brand has the opportunity to add a snappy bio on Twitter that sums up what they do in 160 characters. Loyal followers won’t read it, but what about the cyberstalkers who have just discovered your brand? You need to show them what your brand is about. Some brands bios are downright dull.

Others work well. Like Glossier.

Old Spice is ballsy and to the point.

Whatever you do, use the space to say something interesting about your brand. Don’t let this opportunity to connect with your audience go to waste.

4) Preview email text

You might argue it’s all down to a great subject line when it comes to email opens. Maybe. But it might not always be the case. Although not all email platforms show preview text, use the opportunity to expand on the subject line and persuade your reader. Because, let’s face it, these preview texts are pointless:

“Having trouble viewing this email?”

“Add” to your address book And here’s one from my inbox which is even worse:

This ASOS email I received a while back works particularly well. The subject line certainly isn’t trying to do anything clever – they just want to emphasise the deal. But the preview text emphasises why customers should make the most of it.

Next time you’re sending out an email, think how you could make the most of this opportunity and make your preview text brilliant, persuasive copy.

5)    Search bar

A search bar is a search bar with no opportunities to do anything interesting. It’s just there. Right? Wrong. Airbnb do something quite clever with theirs. They give users inspiration of where they could go and what could they do.

Users could have innocently visited the website to book a weekend away, but then they decide to head to Cali for a week of catching waves. It goes to show design and copy need to work together to help initiate action. Even something functional is an opportunity to inject some energy and inspire readers.

6)  Email sign up

Remember the last time you signed up for a mailing list? I can’t. With GDPR in full swing, brands need to work harder to persuade people to opt into their mailing list. I felt disappointed when I saw Lush’s sign up. They’ve definitely fallen into the trap here of making everything else creative, but not making a boring bit brilliant.

Method makes readers feel like they’re joining some sort of mission.

But do cleaning brands need to be interesting or fun? Well, cleaning product sales set to continue to rise in 2019 thanks to the likes of Instagram influencers like Mrs Hinch. Not on the Highstreet take a different approach. They attempt to persuade the audience that their emails are different. The sense of intrigue makes it tempting to sign up.

An email sign up might seem boring as brands know they need it somewhere on their site. But to actually persuade people to sign up, adding some brilliant copy can make it much more effective.

7)    “User name already exists” message

We’ve all been there. We need to complete the dull task of creating a new account, and you have to pick a username. But no, every single one we can think of is taken. It’s frustrating. I love this hidden gem from MailChimp.

It lightens the mood, appeals to the reader’s sense of humour and improves user experience. What’s interesting is this won’t be visible to everyone, but they’ve found an opportunity to make themselves likeable and added great copy in an unlikely place. Of course, this kind of comedic approach wouldn’t work for every brand. But it can always be used as an opportunity to offer advice or even offer suggestions to make the experience easier.


We’ve only talked about 7 places where great copy makes a difference. Always keep an eye out for opportunities – whether it’s sprucing up your delivery information or making your FAQs in line with your tone of voice. If you’re too busy to read the whole post, get started by making these boring bits brilliant: Privacy policies – personalise it to your brand by adding small bits of copy. Error 404 pages – make it fun to relieve some of the frustration, or simply say sorry like you mean it. Twitter bios – check you’re making the 160 characters count to engage cyberstalkers. Preview text for emails – add something that supports your subject line to boost the chances of recipients opening your email. Search bar – use it as an opportunity to inspire or guide your reader. Email sign up – nudge them to sign up with some clever copy or a benefit. “Username already exists” message – put a humorous spin on it (when appropriate) or offer suggestions.

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