Jacob Denno is a freelance copywriter and editor based in North London. Through his command of the English language and his ardour for building brands, he has sold over 45,000 copies of a niche literary magazine, been integral in the transformation of a small design agency into one of London’s top-ranked advertising agencies, and enabled a new property development firm to sell every house from its first project in less than four weeks. He is a huge fan of the em dash, knows his way around an Oxford comma, and can do a pitch-perfect impression of a clucking chicken.
Since entering the world of writing by penning music reviews for the lo-fi arts publication Amelia's Magazine, I've spent the last ten years using words to sell all sorts of things. Like furniture and fashion for high street retailer Oliver Bonas. Porridge for Rude Health. Office space for Regus. Literary magazines for Popshot. New homes for Belfield. Luxury holidays for Cazenove+Loyd. A whole advertising agency for Fold7 and an entire college for Plymouth College of Art. You get the picture. To paint yourself a better one, place your eyeballs on some of my work below.
Founded in 1993 by Olly Tress, Oliver Bonas is an independent British high street retailer with over 60 stores across the UK and more than 700 employees. Having built a reputation as a unique destination for gifting, Oliver Bonas wanted to move away from its 'quirky gift shop' position in the market to become a more sophisticated lifestyle brand, and needed its tone of voice to follow suit.
Working closely with Olly and the Head of Marketing, I developed a new tone of voice that was refined and authoritative, whilst maintaining the friendly and approachable feel that had built such a loyal customer following. In addition, I produced copy for a wide range of collateral that included lookbooks, email campaigns, packaging, till receipts, dispatch notes, customer service responses, press releases and HR-specific copy. Copywriting templates for job adverts and social media posts were also created to ensure the tone of voice was delivered consistently, alongside a brand values document that outlined the history, vision and values of Oliver Bonas.
In 2008, I founded Popshot — an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction and poetry — with the aim of creating a publication that would provide a much-needed outlet for literature's new blood. Thanks to its vibrant combination of contemporary writing and illustration, Popshot soon garnered attention from the mainstream press with The Independent naming it one of "a fresh breed of literary magazines" and Dazed & Confused calling it "a who isn't yet who of contemporary literature".
As Editor, I handled every aspect of the magazine's creation. My responsibilities for the print edition included planning each issue, reading submissions, commissioning illustrators, art direction, copyediting, proofreading, designing, and managing the production process. I also produced all copy for Popshot's website, social media channels, marketing materials and new initiatives. In June 2017, with a print circulation of 6,000 copies and distribution in over 25 countries, Popshot was acquired by The Chelsea Magazine Company.
The Animation Guys is an animation studio and video production company based in North London. While they had an impressive portfolio of work and bags of energy for what they do, their website wasn't doing a very good job of showing it. They needed a new site that would represent their work and the services they offered in a more polished manner, while sounding personable and down to earth.
Working closely with the Managing Director and branding agency March, I wrote a range of copy to slot into the preliminary wireframes March had created. This included case studies, about copy, calls to action, and information about their processes and various services. While it was important that the copy read well, it was also essential that it helped bolster The Animation Guy's search engine rankings. With key search terms highlighted, I made sure they were stitched into each page to improve the studio's visibility against its competitors.
Investors in People is a people management organisation that helps businesses succeed by realising the potential of their people. Formerly owned by the UK government, it was transitioning into an independent community interest company (CIC) and wanted a more community-focused tone of voice to reflect its new status. While the brand was well-established in the people management sector, it was generally perceived as less progressive than its competition.
Working with the marketing department, I devised a tone of voice and set of brand values that would champion the organisation's focus on people. I encouraged the brand to talk less about frameworks, benchmarks and accreditation, and more clearly about its purpose and ambitions. The result was a tone of voice that helped Investors in People become more purposeful, human and clear.
Founded in the mid-nineties, Fold7 had been a design agency for over 15 years but, after successfully executing a handful of high-profile advertising briefs, were looking to reposition themselves as an ad agency. Working with the Managing Partner and Head of Engagement, I played an integral role in developing the agency's new identity, with a particular focus on its website, and tone of voice across all aspects of the business.
To support the new positioning, I wrote thought leadership and opinion pieces on advertising and brands; all copy and editorial content for fold7.com; ghostwrote for the partners in the industry press; worked on copy for new business pitches; and handled Fold7's social and email marketing strategy. I also worked with external PR and new business agencies to ensure that Fold7's tone of voice was consistent across every channel.
'The rise of the response film'
'Reigning cats and dogs'
'Storytelling: The antidote to functional'
'How do you get people to share more? Share less'
'A user-generated generation: Turning consumers into contributors'
'Who cares wins: The growing benefits of social responsibility'
As one of the few remaining specialist arts colleges in the UK, Plymouth College of Art was looking to emphasise its creative approach in comparison to its rival educational institutions. For its new prospectuses, the college wanted to create something that felt more imaginative and dynamic.
Working with creative agency Lovers, I helped plan out the content for two prospectuses (Pre-degree and Undergraduate/Postgraduate) that would look and feel like a magazine. Working alongside another writer and two photographers, I spent three days in the college interviewing students, tutors, technicians and alumni to create a series of features that would paint a vibrant picture of what makes the college unique. This was the basis for a wide range of editorial content that captured the experiences of individual students, highlighted the superior facilities, and outlined the programmes themselves.
As a newly formed property development firm, Belfield needed a brand identity and tone of voice that would feel established, trustworthy and distinct from its big ticket competitors.
With the nine properties from its first development needing to be marketed before the foundations had been laid, the Belfield brand had to work hard. On a tight deadline, I came up with a simple brand identity and wrote the copy for the development brochure, which was designed by Two. The brochure was supported by advertorial copy in local papers and a compact Belfield website which I wrote for, designed and custom built in HTML/CSS. All nine properties sold in less than four weeks. I have since worked on a brochure for Belfield's second development project, Luscombe House, working to a similar format but with a more premium feel to target an older and more affluent demographic.
Makaton is a language programme (promoted and developed by The Makaton Charity) designed to help people with learning or speaking difficulties. It combines speech and signing, and is supported by a library of symbols.
Following a complete rebrand by creative agency MultiAdaptor, I was brought in to help Makaton talk about the new direction and introduce its new brand icon, Okey. Writing in the charity's friendly and expressive tone of voice, I positioned the rebrand in a wider context and articulated what it will mean for Makaton in both the immediate and distant future.
YCN is a creative network that helps connect its members with new clients, partners, talent and ideas. However, despite being at the centre of the creative industry, its editorial offer needed bolstering.
Working with the Director, I introduced new regular features and longer-form editorial that would provide greater value to YCN's readership and demonstrate the company's knowledge of the creative world. I built relationships with advertising agencies, publishers and design agencies to ensure YCN heard about new work at the same time as its competitors, laying the foundations for its editorial to become more timely and industry-focused. I also worked on a number of YCN's editorial print projects, including its members' magazine, You Can Now, and various award annuals.
Interested in working together? If you have any questions, a project you want to talk about, or you just want to hear the clucking chicken impression, don't hesitate to get in touch.