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Why Name a Problem?

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“They won’t recognize a great solution until they see how big the problem was.”

Along the way to becoming a copywriter one must learn to name problems. This is an essential skill for anyone trying use their creativity out in the world of real people and real issues. Because when you present your bit of inspired copy to a prospective client (as one does when planning for serendipity), they will not see how inspired it is until you tell the problem the copy solved. Once they understand the problem, they can begin to appreciate the genius of the solution you created.


Naming a problem is best done in story form: there was this nasty condition and people worked around the nasty business in this way, which was inconvenient and bad. But we saw that this could be done, and so I created this. Which seemed to work and everyone was happy. Problem solved.

But naming a problem can sometimes be uncomfortable. Not usually after the fact, when everyone can easily see that it was a problem. But before: if you are the first one to notice a problem it takes a bit of courage to say it out loud to others. What if you got it wrong? What if you just don’t understand? If you name the problem, will you be responsible to fix it?

Here’s where a lesson from work fits back into real life as a human: naming a problem is the first step toward fixing it. That is true with my clients and it is true with students and it is true in all sorts of relationships and life situations. To name something is to register that a problem exists. It puts the problem on the radar and communicates to others that there may be an issue.

Until you name a problem you have very little opportunity to address it.

Naming is a bridge to fixing.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston


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