As communicators, the written and spoken word carries more power for us than for many other professionals. We use words to create emotion, call consumers to action, foster loyalty, and enrich competition.
We want to use words and phrases that people — our audience — will understand. In some cases, that means going against some basic rules of grammar.
Is that okay?
There is a fine line we have to walk. Yes, our communication must be smart and have the best interests of the company in mind, but we don't want to use words that make us sound smarter than our markets, or outdated.
Example — a hospital places a billboard outside on a highway that reads "We make you feel good."
Across the schools of grammar, that copywriter would be severely reprimanded. But when one regularly talks to people, most would say that they feel "good" rather than "well."
Advertising and marketing are delightful cases where relevancy will often trump rules.
As many of us appreciate the rules of our language, it can be discouraging to ignore grammar tenets we see as basic. But our goal is not to be advocates of the proper use of the pronoun or adverb. No, our goal is to connect our brand to consumers who like what we represent.
And we have to speak and write in a language they'll understand.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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