Words Matter

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

5 April 2018

Specific colors can evoke specific feelings, just as specific words can evoke specific feelings. How does the word punch make you feel? Or herpetology? Or moist? Some words may even make you feel uncomfortable when they are meant as complimentary. The first time you hear, “Your dad is a mensch,” you may want to start a fight, but head over to Google and you will change your tune. If you are writing a bio for your LinkedIn profile, a political outburst on your college roommate’s Facebook post, or sending an email to a prospect, be mindful of what you say. As important as the way the words make you feel is how they may be perceived.

Example 1

Herpetoculture is Sal’s thing. His basement is lined with tanks filled with snakes on one side and mice on the other. He makes a living consulting implementation of software products to the banking industry and decides to open his own firm. He calls it Herpes Consulting and the phone never rings.

Example 2

Jerry Morton and Ben Trist founded a software company. They named it Moist Technology. Their target market is repulsed. To them it was a clever way to combine their surnames, but to their prospects it was flat out distasteful.

Less is More

Before you hit send on that email referencing the prioritized, tactical list detailing our symbiotic goals and current needs in excel format take a step back and think, “What might others perceive? Is the term status report sufficient?” You may think you are being thorough, but others might find your ridiculous rhetoric confusing.

Marketing is a mix of strategy, graphic design, and language – always language. And even though you cannot control what everyone will perceive, it is important to be cognizant of potential disconnects, especially with the members of your target audience or your business partners.