Creative Copy: The values of rhyme, how it works and why it's fallen out of copywriting fashion
If there’s one thing we copywriters want our words to do, it’s to get them stuck in the minds of our readers.
After all, what’s the point in paying to shout about your product or service if it only gets forgotten as soon as it’s read?
Of course, there are a bunch of tools and tactics we can use to make our copy more memorable. You might choose to tell a compelling story, employ the rule of three or use a metaphor to glue your message to the inside of the reader’s brain.
But when it comes to creating memorable phrases that get remembered for ages, nothing can quite match the rhyme.
As you can probably guess, rhyming has been around for a while (the earliest example we know of is from China in the 10th Century). It’s proliferated our culture through poetry and music, and it’s one of the most widely used ways that we’ve passed on information across the generations.
But why are rhymes so effective?
Well, there are a couple of reasons.
Firstly, our brains love linking word phrases to sounds.
That’s why, when we read a phrase like ‘one, two, buckle my shoe’, we process it in a set way—try saying that phrase without your internal metronome ticking along and you’ll hear what I mean.
Secondly, we’re educated through rhyme before we’re even able to talk.
And, at an unconscious level, we’re being taught that rhyme works.
Take lullabies and nursery rhymes, for example. I haven’t heard The Grand Old Duke of York in at least thirty years, but I can recall instantly that he had ten thousand men and he marched them up and down a hill somewhere.
As you’d expect, this magical ability for rhyme to make words stick has been picked up by savvy copywriters. From ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’ to ‘You can’t get better than a Kwik Fit fitter’, or ‘clunk, click, every trip’ to ‘Do the Shake n Vac and put the freshness back’—a simple rhyme can get your brand message lodged into the customer’s mind.
Weirdly, rhyme seems to have fallen out of copywriting fashion in recent years.
It might be because brands think it’s a bit twee, or just that copywriters aren’t putting killer rhyming options in front of clients.
But, if you get the chance, try to stick a rhyme into your brand comms somewhere just to see if it sticks. You might be surprised at just how well it works.
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