Overuse of the word “very” (or “really”) is a common pitfall in copywriting. While the word “very” should not be entirely banished from copywriting projects, its deployment should be carefully evaluated.
The word “very” is an interesting one. It operates as an adjective i.e. to denote an exactitude e.g. “that’s the very street where I used to live”. It can also be employed as an adverb for emphasis e.g. “it was very old”.
It’s in the latter case that problems can arise. Rather than stating “very old”, for example, there are many more descriptive and engaging ways of making the same point. Consider: ancient, antiquated, elderly, mature, worn… Most of these alternatives further enrich the copy as they also relate context and imagery.
If referring to a building, for example, then “historic” is often a more appropriate choice and one that also conveys grandeur and presence. “Venerable” not only imparts that a person is in the latter stages of life but also relates a sense of respect owing to accomplishments achieved. Meanwhile, “frayed” delivers a much clearer description for a “very old” cushion.
Further examples commonly encountered by the Loud Ladybird copywriting team are: “very big” and “very small”.
Depending on context, “very big” could be better described as: “enormous”, “substantial”, “spacious”, “stupendous”, “prodigious”, “gargantuan”, “mighty”, “vast”, “immense”, “tremendous”, “towering”, “mountainous”, “Herculean” or “weighty”.
Likewise, there are so many options for “very small”, which, denote further meaning relating to the circumstance. Here are a few ideas: “compact”, “diminutive”, “bijou”, “negligible”, “slight”, “tiny”, “infinitesimal”, “little”, “scant”, “modest”, “petite”, “miniature”, “brief” or “undersized”.
Remember that readers quickly tire from overemphasis and swiftly switch off to hyperbole. Words like “very” and “really” are often culpable in this context.
Which of the following statements is most effective?
1) “This is a very new product from a totally amazing company that always offers really good value.”
2) “This is the latest in a line of well received products from an experienced company, which stakes its reputation on delivering value for money.”
Both of the above statements actually make the same points i.e. (i) new product, (ii) from an excellent company, (iii) offering value for money. Nevertheless, it is the second statement that avoids the superlative style and takes more of an authoritative tone, which creates a seemingly objective stance. This in turn makes the second statement more engaging and genuine.
Ultimately, it’s wise to exercise caution when employing the word “very”. While it clearly has a place in copywriting projects, less is more.
The Loud Ladybird creative team delivers a comprehensive and integrated approach – bringing together a copywriting service, photography service, graphic design service, website design service, public relations (or media relations) and marketing services – in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk and beyond. To learn more, feel welcome to make contact.