A Year of Copywriting Comes to Fruition - Travis Senzaki

A Year of Copywriting Comes to Fruition

Last May, I moved jobs to a new university and was immediately put in charge of the English website and developing the univeristy’s pamphlet for international students. The website is still a work in progress, but last week, I took delivery of the newly printed pamphlets and it was extremely gratifying to see something I’d put so much effort into finally arrive in print. It’s not quite the same as the rush of seeing a first novel published, I’m sure, but it was a tantalizing taste of what is to come. And it will come.

This was the cover, before I arrived.

This was the cover before I arrived.

For six consecutive years before I arrived, the university had used almost the exact same contents and design. It was pretty, based on a gold-leaf painting from the Golden Hall of Hiraizumi, but I looked at it, with the slogan “Experience Japan” emblazoned across the cover and thought, Well, that’s nice, but it has nothing to do with the university. It had to go.

If the design was pretty but irrelevant, the contents were horrible. I barely got through page two (page one was the table of contents) before experiencing the strong desire to grab a red marker and scrawl “TL;DR.” It was a mass of text, mostly copied from the student course registration manual and extremely Japanese. For instance, the page on business classes contained a concise history of the field of economics. I kid you not. It wasn’t even well written. That is, it was written like it belonged in a textbook, not a marketing pamphlet. (And “International Marketing” was one of the courses listed, too!). I took it off the university website today, but you can find a copy here.

Almost the entirety of the pamphlet continued in the same vein. I cut it all and rewrote every word from scratch. Teaching myself the fundamentals of marketing as I went along, I conducted a branding survey and stakeholder interviews. If you haven’t noticed from the look of this blog, visual design is not my strength, but I proposed a design, took the cover photo myself, then worked with a professional to fine tune it, I selected all the photos (another weak spot), and pushed it through the approval process.

All told, the project took nearly 100 hours, including the time spent studying, over the course of a year. And I am frigging proud of how it came out. If you haven’t fallen asleep from reading the old version, above, you can find the pdf of the new 2015 Akita International University Pamphlet here. Understand, though, that it looks far more glorious on nice, thick, printed paper.

So yeah, not about fiction today (although at one point in the writing process, one of the professors implied that I was bordering on fiction in my description of his program and ordered me to dull down the writing to reduce expectations), but about seeing my work in print and the joy that brings. It feels good.

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