Stories From the Trenches

Laughing Samurai

Small Business Profile: Laughing Samurai

by: | June 5, 2012

Creative agency establishes charismatic brand identity through effective web copy.

No doubt that at least once in your childhood, some wise parent informed you, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. One trek through the saturated marketplace of the Internet proves that the best web copy consistently heeds this advice.

Let’s remember that writing, for all intents and purposes, is an art form, a craft.  Those who understand this and hone the talent write better than others. While it’s true that if you’re reading this, you’re probably two things: a) a small business owner and b) literate, you shouldn’t write your own copy to save a buck.

Think about it. Just because you sing and play a guitar doesn’t make you a Beatle.

Enter Laughing Samurai, a creative agency in Orlando, Fla., that specializes in brand development and marketing/advertising strategies for other businesses.

“Even if it’s one page, every business needs a website that looks professional and communicates its message effectively,” Ben Collins, co-founder, idea-man, strategist, and decision-maker for Laughing Samurai says. “I think most businesses fail in the copywriting department. With the way the web works today, it’s more important than ever to have a professional write your website who understands the people and robots that are going to be reading it.”

Ah, yes, the robots. Welcome to the 21st century. Until we invent a program that writes scintillating ad-copy based on the needs of companies, search engines, and the consumers who rely on both, we must trust the creatives, like those at Laughing Samurai, with two fingers on the pulse of the entrepreneurial zeitgeist.

“We rely on headlines and taglines for branding when it comes to clients,” Collins says. “For services, if we’re lucky, we can start with a company’s branding, help them get functional on the web by building them a website, and coordinate all their marketing content from the written word to videos.”

How good of a job can they do? Take a look at their own website.

The first thing you see is the headline: Everyone says they’re different. We aren’t. We are a Creative Agency. We do the same thing, just bolder and faster.

Got your attention, didn’t it?

“There are thousands of creative/branding agencies in the world,” Collins says.  “We’re the only one named Laughing Samurai. We wanted a potential client to know that we understand the marketplace is full of amazing creative companies doing amazing things, and when comparing people with talent, it’s going to come down to personal preference.”

Now, click over to “Services,” and what do you see? Another huge headline: We don’t think outside the box. Boxes work. We make better boxes.

Are you deciphering a pattern here? Effective web copy should do more than provide information. It should show a consistent identity, which is most subtly revealed through a consistent voice.

The laws of voice dictate both what we say and how we say it. In a public setting, would a historian expound on the merits of their high score in pinball when they were 14, or would he expound on the Cold War’s effect on the American psyche? Would a road raged New Yorker say, “Hey, get out of the way,” or would she say, “Get off the road, you (expletive adjective) (expletive noun)?”

Laughing Samurai’s voice never wavers far from direct, confident, and self-aware statements of intent. In this way, their brand identity and web-copy work together, the same way roots and branches do to ground and extend the same vital structure.

“The voice of Laughing Samurai really focuses on serious fun,” Collins says. “We want to enjoy what we do, because you can’t have a creative environment that functions effectively if you’re not loving it. We approach delivering our message by being honest about things and not trying to sugar coat. With the web, search engines kind of rule the place, so they are going to have an effect on what you would say. You’re limited to the words that are most effective in helping people find your brand. So, many companies pick a word and say, why am I not coming up for that keyword, but if no one is really searching for that word, it doesn’t matter. For consistency, we use content creation best practices and editorial guidelines to make sure that the team is unified in their messaging.”

Website copy should never be an overlooked opportunity to enchant your potential clients. Dig around the Laughing Samurai website and find entertaining bonuses, like the teleportation plans located in their ‘Contact’ section. Gems like this reveal a company that emphasizes its personality rather than a stuffy ‘professional’ nature.

“It’s 100 percent risky,” Collins says. “But it’s a risk we are willing to take. Creatives have been leaving Easter eggs in their work for a long time. Renaissance painters, Victorian playwrights, and videogame programmers are a few good examples. My arms are covered in tattoos. I can choose to wear long sleeves to work and try to disguise my true identity from our clients, or I can just let them know: this is who I am. The risk is that someone is going to read through our site or see my tattoos and choose not to work with us. In all reality, if things like jokes and tattoos are a reason not to work with us, then it’s probably not a good client for Laughing Samurai. For a benefit, if people mention the little weird things we put on our site, it lets us know they actually took the time to read through it. In a way this gives us an insight as to what type of client they are going to be. Finally, adding little bonus details just make us laugh, and we feel like that’s worth doing.”

Refreshing, no? Laughing Samurai doesn’t trick you into working with them through false promises and manipulative language. Aside from their portfolio, the website is made up primarily of text-based declarations of what to expect from them. The personality in the writing is contained by the clean, easy-to-navigate appearance of the website as a whole.

“We want our visitors to do two things when they come to our website,” Collins says. “Look at our work and then decide to hire us. We’ve contemplated adding video to our site, but it really comes down to looking at the work we’ve done, reading about our philosophies and then making the decision. If we didn’t have to have the excess content for the search engines, we would have an even simpler website than we do now. If you fly though our site and read only the headlines and look at the work, you can still get a sense of who we are.”

This is a company that knows itself. And their job is to get to know the client, too, sometimes better even than the client knows itself. Because they are a creative agency, their copywriting also makes a statement about the work they do. Imagine how your site could be improved by branding your company this well with a tool as simple and vital as written words.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2B, B2C, Branding, Content, E-Commerce, Optimization, Professional Services, Stories From the Trenches

About the Writer:

Michael Wheaton is a fiction writer who also works in more useful trades, such as tutoring, filling in for sick teachers, and penning articles about subjects that really matter to people. Most recently, he was brought on as a copywriter for Laughing Samurai, an innovative creative agency in Orlando, Fla. He grew up in the northwestern garden part of the Garden State. For his BA, he turned to the University of Central Florida. For his MFA, Pacific University. Once, he picked a fight with a tulip just to see what would happen. Thankfully, the flower was a pacifist. Michael Wheaton won the fight.

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