Can Being Too Accurate Hurt Your Sales?

Michele Warg
Posted by

When marketing a business, you have to choose effective words to engage customers and drive sales. Prompting an emotional response is the top priority, making it necessary, at times, to focus on impact more than linguistic accuracy. Breaking the right rules can strengthen your brand identity when your marketing language is compelling. Learn why getting caught up in technical details can stop you from building a powerful brand identity that speaks to your audience.

Familiarity Can Transcend Accuracy

Finding the right balance of casual and professional in branded content can be tricky. Understandably, many business owners are afraid of being criticized by self-appointed grammar police when they take creative liberties with marketing language. Business communications should sound polished and authoritative, but you're often catering to people with short attention spans and diverse language and grammar skills. Connecting with your audience in a quick, meaningful way requires clear, simple language reinforced by cultural familiarity.

Think about the many grammatical inaccuracies and figurative phrases you use on a daily basis. Maybe you said "bless you" to a stranger who sneezed or told a friend to "break a leg" before an interview. Chances are, you have "burned the midnight oil" to finish a project or given someone the "benefit of the doubt" after a disagreement. None of these colloquialisms are straightforward and accurate, but they instantly resonate with audiences without any need for explanation.

Technical Language May Lack Impact

A strong brand identity builds on the vast information your customers naturally absorb in their everyday lives. From "think different" to "where you at" to "got milk," American culture's most popular taglines often stress grammar flaws that mimic conversational speech. Obsessing over technical details may lead to more precise communications, but you're also likely to overlook serendipitous phrasing that just feels right.

Customers respond positively to brand identities with a human voice, not corporate marketing lingo. Consider other successful slogans, such as "leggo my Eggo" or "nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger." Both taglines use inaccuracy to achieve a goal. In a few simple words, they playfully capture the familiar feeling of not wanting to share your favorite foods. More importantly, the correct phrase "let go of my Eggo" lacks the catchy authenticity of the original slogan.

The Right Brand Voice Attracts the Right Audience

Aiming for perfection may be a waste of time, anyway. Contemporary readers tend to skim content, so it's more important to tell customers just enough to provoke an emotional response, says Pia Silva, a brand strategist at Worstofall Design. Appealing to grammar purists doesn't matter when they aren't your core market. As Silva point out, customers feel connected to your brand identity when you're targeting the right people, and it's pointless to try to please others who don't fit your audience.

Marketing a business takes time, research and a lot of trial and error. Nothing works 100 percent of the time, no matter what marketing channels you use. However, the more you learn about your audience, the easier it is to develop a brand identity that keeps customers interested in your marketing content. Getting to know your customers can help you decide when it's better to play it safe or be creative with your words.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch