Los Angeles might totally be having a moment, but has New York City ever not been cool? That elusive, almost mythological back-East-speak that has characterized some of our greatest novels, movies and television shows, it turns out, is a powerful weapon in fashion marketing and eCommerce copywriting.
New Yorkers are infamous for being unfriendly (honest, really), impatient (yet they’ll wait hours for a cronut), and ridiculously stylish (they just wear a lot of black), all characteristics that spring from from necessity, actually. Remember, these people live out their days in a grimy, competitive city where dark clothing, expediency and apparent confidence are matters of survival. You will simply go nowhere here if you do not assert your chic, put-together self, Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, power lip, and all.
The best people-watching happens Downtown, where an endless supply of fashion girls rule the streets, armed with iPhones and attitudes. They pause only to Instagram coddled eggs and wasabi Bloody Marys with their style peers before moving on to the next spot (you haven't heard of it yet, but you will). Here’s how to capture that elusive NYC attitude in your brand copy. (And you know you want to.)
BE BOLD... Know what you know, say what you feel. Don’t spend too much time on romance. Get down to the details straight away. If that motorcycle jacket would look amazing with torn black skinnies, by all means, insist. Subtlety will get you nowhere in this town, or on the Internet.
BE A BOSS... There’s a reason why you can make it anywhere if you can make it here. Use this simple rule: WWAS (What would Anna say?) Start thinking like Ms. Wintour and own your shit. Your copy should be less “I want you (the consumer) to want me” and more “I know you want me—let me just tell you why.”
BUT DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE... Contrary to stereotype, New York is not a city full of people who regularly tell other people to go fuck themselves. There is a point where cockiness is tacky. Don’t say your product is the bomb-dot-com and anyone who wants anything else doesn’t know anything. That’s so…Trump. You can embody "New York values" by calmly stating that your product is superior, matter-of-factly.
GIVE NO FUCKS... Avoid hagiography and take an irreverent tone that shows you're not super preoccupied with tradition. Try replacing dreamy descriptions like "beautiful handcrafted handbags" with smart-mouth statements like "This bag will give you life." New York is all about that edge. Know how (and when) to talk back and deliver the punches.
NEVER COMPLAIN, NEVER EXPLAIN... The maxim is English in origin, and from the Nineteenth Century, but it’s a good rule of thumb for keeping your copy cool AF. If you expound excessively on the merits of your product, your audience might think you doth protest too much. Don’t use copy to justify your prices or impress your customers. And for god sakes, don’t respond to social media trolls. They just want attention.
KEEP IT REAL... When it comes to editorial-style copywriting, straightforwardness is an easy way to sound cool. Think of legendary NYC media outlets like The New Yorker, Vice and Vogue. Their biting honesty sets the tone and commands respect. If you want to be really “New York,” try approaching brand copy like a Manhattan journalist. Start with the who-what-when-where-why, and then hash out the details.
BUT KEEP THE MYSTERY... Treat copywriting like dating. Don’t just go letting it all gush out. Intrigue interested parties with a gentle tease. Be a little coy, a little witty, and above all: do it with style.
Would you like your brand copy to exude New York cool? LET'S DO THIS