…plus the fascinating world of deposits and withdrawals

It’s Copycam time again. As I mentioned before, going out for me is a verbal assault course. Everywhere I look, there are lessons to be learned – and recorded for posterity. Sometimes, though, I don’t even have to leave home. When my system has had enough caffeine, I often reach for a fruit infusion from Twinings. My favourite is orange, mango and cinnamon – the perfect blend of tang and taste. Or at least it used to be.  Because this: features and benefits has become this: features and benefits It’s a classic case of features and benefits. Orange, mango and cinnamon are just three randomly combined elements. And it was a combination I liked, though I couldn’t tell exactly why. But now I can – because it gives me a moment of calm in a chaotic world. I feel better already. It’s no accident that Twinings has rebranded its fruit infusions. I’ve noticed recently that Tesco’s own-brand infusions no longer just give a list of ingredients, but create a promise: they’re detoxifying (nettle leaves, hibiscus and dandelion root) or energising (ginger, ginkgo biloba and ginseng). Or even soothing (camomile, lemon balm leaves and aloe vera). That’s my favourite – I wonder why? Because selling benefits, not features, always works.

Special branch

Sometimes, you can stretch language beyond believability, so you need to be careful that you don’t get carried away on a wave of enthusiasm. Just the other day, I was in London, and spotted this: features and benefits Another HSBC branch – just what Oxford Street needs, I thought. But it wasn’t just any old branch. I looked more closely: features and benefits Exciting. Yes, that’s what it said. Now if I played a word-association game, I’d bet my very last orange, mango and cinnamon teabag that you’d never come up with exciting. Practical, yes. Bright, spacious, comfortable – maybe. But not exciting.

Would you credit it?

Banks have an odd habit of mangling language. In an attempt to reach out to customers, Barclays decided a while back to be less formal. Now, every time I withdraw cash, I feel a toe-curling embarrassment on their behalf: features and benefits If only their straight-talking approach extended to everything they did. Just last week, I dropped into my local branch of Barclays to bank a cheque. A young chap in a smart suit was accosting people in the queue. Were they looking to withdraw cash, he wondered? Because if they were, there was a “security issue”. I couldn’t resist. “What’s the problem?” I asked “It’s a security issue,” he said again, without blinking. “Yes – I know that,” I said patiently, teasing each syllable out. “But what exactly is the problem?” He looked at me. I looked at him. He shifted uncomfortably, and his patent-leather shoes squeaked. “We can’t open the safe,” he said. Now that’s what I call an issue.