Do spelling and grammar matter in advertising and marketing?


By Heather Graulich, writer, Custom Projects

Do spelling and grammar matter in advertising and marketing? It’s an interesting question. You can look at the photo of the roadside veggie stand shown here and see two possibilities:

1.     A spelling-challenged person has done his or her best to sell produce.

2.    A brilliant marketing mind has realized the cute misspellings (seriously, “peech?”) will catch the attention of passers-by, who will be amused enough to stop and buy veggies. There is, of course, a third possibility: the whole thing was staged to make for a funny post on Facebook – the origin of the photo, in fact. That’s a whole other story. Staged or not, spelling and grammar do matter. Proper spelling and grammar in your advertising and marketing materials implies education, aptitude and attention to detail, which foster trust in consumers. On the other hand, improper spelling and grammar can be used to imply a casual or “folksy” quality to a product or service. This lighthearted approach can put consumers at ease. Think of all the companies that use misspelled words such as lite, brite, nite, kwik, kool, kleen, etc. to grab your attention. This technique – called “divergent spelling” - works because the brain is conditioned to see words as they are meant to be spelled, so any variation causes you to pause and consider. And that’s exactly what an advertiser wants. If you’re selling a mass-appeal product or service (Krispy Kreme, anyone?) this can be effective. You will rarely see this tactic used by high-end retailers and service-providers, however, because they wish to be viewed as having as much culture and education as the consumers they are targeting – those with higher educations and, statistically, higher salaries. They know you may buy a “peech,” but you might not want an “iFone.”