When he wasn’t busy painting masterpieces or inventing helicopters, all-round-Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci found was one of the leading thinkers of his day.

He was a simple man though, da Vinci. The illegitimate son of a country girl and a rural notary, he regarded simplicity as the foundation of his genius. His motto was: “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Although writing wasn’t one his greatest strengths, we can learn a lot from the bearded Florentine.

Simplicity is at the core of great copywriting. The sentences that work best are the ones that use simple, clear, straightforward language and structure. A sentence doesn’t get better the more words you stuff into it. On the contrary, it almost invariably gets worse.

Many people fall in to the trap of over-writing, trying to sound more impressive or to demonstrate their knowledge by using unnecessary words or flowery phrases.

But the most effective corporate writers make their point quickly and clearly. They use precise words and simple phrasing.

Don’t write:
“The company does not intend to remove the automatic bollards, but it is necessary to carry out repairs to the bollards for the purpose of keeping them operating effectively.”

Keep it clear and simple:
“The company does not intend to remove the automatic bollards, but it must repair them to keep them working properly.”

Or how about:
“Overestimating on one type of the relevant material could have a detrimental impact on cost-effectiveness for the client.”

Instead of:
“Overestimating one type of material could cost the clients more.”

So next time you’re tempted to throw in a few ‘corporate’ sounding phrases or flowery language to sound more sophisticated, just remember the words of our old friend Leonardo da Vinci. If simplicity was good enough for him, it’s darn tootin’ good enough for me.