Do You Have a Word Bank?

Do You Have a Word Bank?

Small putrid humans with grubby hands seem to be particularly fond of games where you have to look for words in giant grids of letters. Sometimes these games will come with a word bank. It helps them out because their minds are still mushy and in the grand scheme of life, let’s be honest, they’re not very bright.

These games help to shut them up on plane rides and other situations where they subject their immaturity upon the world at large, which doesn’t find them as endearing as their parents.

Surprisingly, you can learn something from these little buzzing insect-persons. Enhance your copywriting with a word bank.


Word banks come in handy for the brands you do regular work for – or when you have a huge scope of work to churn out.

Don’t be an idiot. If you’re doing a single ad or other individual piece of work, you don’t need a word bank.

Word banks serve in your arsenal when you’re developing a tone of voice for a brand. It can become part of the brand standards, just like guidelines for corporate colours, typefaces, or placement of a logo. If you do all of the writing for a client, if you’re an in-house copywriter, or if you’re writing for your own business, then go ahead and establish a word bank.

If a number of people are responsible for brand communications, then it can be even more useful to establish a word bank for brand consistency. The word bank, along with any other accompanying tone of voice guidelines, should be distributed to copywriters, marketing and communications staff, external consultants (such as public relations agencies), etc.


In its simplest form, a word bank gathers together a collection words that embody the character of the brand. You may have anywhere from a dozen to several dozen words that establish and express the specific tone of voice ‘owned’ by the brand.

In some cases you may want to develop multiple word banks under a number of categories. Writing for a real estate development? You may want to have one word bank for architecture and interiors, one for landscaping, one for investment messaging.

Writing for a clothing retailer? Don’t expect me to spoon feed you. Come up W88 with your own categories.

Up the Ante

Sometimes you may want to take this resource to the next level and craft a glossary of very particular Brand Language. Subway has ‘Sandwich Artists’. W Hotels always have a  ‘Living Room’ instead of a lobby, and every restroom is referred to as the ‘WC’. This technique channels a lot of power into your brand; just wield it carefully. Taken too far, you might obscure your message instead of adding personality.

If you’re confident it’s a gamble you can take strategic control over, go for it. Otherwise stick to plain English. Wimp.

(I’m kidding of course. There’s no need to go glossary for every brand. But in select cases, it can do amazing things for your copywriting, marketing, and customer relationship development.)

My Personal Word Bank

[CENSORED – Sorry, I’m trying to keep the profanity to a minimum, and I’m afraid the ‘safe search’ filters might start spinning. Just pretend there’s a box filled with lots of ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘how do you do kind sir?’]

Rob the Bank

Got any big accounts you’re working on now? Go out and try the word bank technique yourself.

Feel free to leave a comment after you do or if it’s a technique you already use.