Monday, 18 November 2013

Punctuation ..

A lawyer friend in a large partnership told me that part of his work entailed removing the commas from documents (ie to render the meaning more ambiguous). I wonder if this is just a standing joke in the legal profession, or if it has a basis in truth. Certainly a reminder of the value of correct punctuation to ensure meaning is clear. Would be glad to hear comments.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


From Poke

They say:

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Getting the design work you want: ten pointers for success.

Do you get the results you expect from your designer?

I've recently found myself involved with a couple of projects where the clients were not at all happy with the design proposals they had been given — yet didn't know what they could do about it.

Take Company A (a firm of accountants). They had a need to re-name and re-brand their business. Knowing next to nothing about the process they put their trust in a firm of 'designers' that they had found in a local telephone directory. They called me in to help with PR, but mentioned their concerns over the design proposals, and asked for my advice, given my background in design management and identity development.

It turned out that the designers had met the client once, at the designer's offices, so they had little or no understanding of the client's corporate personality. They hadn't put anything down in writing regarding approach or strategy, except to give a fee for the design work (and the client, naively but perhaps understandably, assumed that this would embrace all that was needed).

Although the designers had agreed to prepare three options, they emailed design proposals, rather than presenting and explaining the designs in person. They provided three design proposals that each adopted essentially the same approach, but with slightly different executions. Two of their solutions (one a hand-shake as logo, one a too-obvious rendition of 'money') were breathtakingly childish, and reminded me of a school project. There had been no attempt to indicate a process by which a multitude of potential avenues might have been explored around the services and benefits the company offered its audience. They had more or less created logo concepts on the back of an envelope and said "take it or leave it".

I offered to 'broker' the process for them, and when I met the designers they admitted that they had had provided two 'rubbish' concepts so that the client would choose the third. They were not prepared to provide any alternative concepts, but as it happens, the client did like one of the proposals, and so agreed to proceed. But as artwork for stationery was being prepared, they kept making basic mistakes and not following instructions. It became clear that they simply didn't appreciate the attention to detail required. With a deadline looming, and things beginning to spiral out of control, I advised the client to cut their losses and find a different designer who could provide more constructive support for the rest of the work required in this critical process.

They agreed a fee to end the relationship and keep the design they liked; I found them a designer who had a more professional approach, who ensured everything ran smoothly to launch date.

The tips I would pass on are these:

1. If you're paying a fee, you're in charge. Make sure things happen the way you want them to.
2. Prepare a clear brief. Write down your requirements and expectations. You could use my Briefing Form [ if you like.
3. Hold a beauty parade. Research possible designers: check local directories, ask colleagues, friends for recommendations.
4. Visit your shortlisted designers in their offices; get them to visit you in your offices.
5. Ask them to make a formal proposal describing how they would work and what they would provide for the fee.
Make sure you understand what's going to be involved. Ask your designer to explain the process.
6. I'm against expecting designers to provide design solutions as part of the pitch process. You should be able to judge their expertise from other work and their attitude; then reward them for the proposals they prepare. Reputable designers will always work with you to revise designs if necessary to achieve a result that works and, ideally, that you're happy with. It's true that sometimes personal opinions diverge, but this is where it's important to be clear about the terms for ending the relationship if necessary.
7. Once you appoint a designer, agree the process: be clear what happens at what stages; be clear that your approval is required at all key stages.
8. Agree costs for each stage of the work (initial concepts, first proposals, fine-tuning proposals, preparing final artwork, handing over all final material). Be clear what 'extras' might cost (and what might be counted as extra work). Be clear what you get for the fee you pay. That should typically include all development work and the final artwork that you can use in the future, as well as your ownership of the copyright for unlimited use (once the fee has been paid).
9. Make sure the designers present and explain their proposals in person
10. If you're developing a new name and logo, be sure that someone checks availability and that you are not in danger of infringing someone else's copyright.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Brand like an Egyptian!

(Photo: Getty images)
Voting is under way in Egypt, in the first elections since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. There is a long list of parties, each with its own logo, such as a food blender, a traffic light and a vacuum cleaner.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Michael Wolff

Love Michael Wolff's pithy website

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Get your cords on for 11.11.11

The date which most closely resembles Corduroy, EVER,111111
is upon us!

Friday, 4 November 2011

SEO: waste of time?

"Modern SEO is all about crafting content so compelling that other people want to promote it by linking to it or sharing it. "

Some interesting thoughts on LinkedIn (link above) about the merits of SEO. So glad to see a return to proper writing...

John Fountain
• Agree with you 100 per cent Richard. The whole SEO debate about keywords is pretty much dead in the water thanks to Google and the way it now searches. Here's something I cut and pasted - '85% of the total factors that determine how a web page is ranked in a search engine is based on things that happen off the page itself.' By that they mean the amount of links to the site, bookmarking and tweets that mention the site.

Modern SEO is all about crafting content so compelling that other people want to promote it by linking to it or sharing it.

This kind of content is best provided by a professional copywriter. So what is the role of the SEO specialist today becasue I'm not sure.

Richard Owsley • I read an article recently where the writer had interviewed twenty top Google SEO people about keyword density. To a man they were agreed that keyword density has no effect whatsoever on today's algorithms. The searches are far, far more sophisticated than that and stuffing your pages full of keywords, apart from making the copy sound moronic and the design look cluttered, is akin to flat earth theory.

I have had many instances in the past two years of clients showing me the advice they got from their SEO 'specialists' which in my eyes was either worthless, or which I could have given myself in two minutes. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen around.