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What Do The Words You Choose Imply?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, False Advertising, Goodwill, Marketing

The words we choose to use in commercial signage, advertising, and marketing materials mean something. That’s why we use them, to communicate a fact, an opinion, or perhaps some other message.

The use of certain words, can carry implied meanings too, some intended, and perhaps some unintended.

For example, yesterday Seth Godin wrote this about the power of the word "yet":

"Yet implies inevitability."

Yet, is a powerful term because it assumes something is coming, could be good, could be bad.

On a somewhat related note, I’ll have to admit I have a built-in set of assumptions when I see the all-too-frequent signage touting the "New Ownership" or "New Management" of a business:

Without some explanation, these kinds of signs seem to beg the questions, "Why are you telling me this?" and "Why should I care?" Be careful with this, because consumers will fill in the blanks, and they may not give you the benefit of the doubt.

Without context or prior experience with the business, the sign may imply there was something so wrong with the prior ownership or management, it is important for the new owner or manager to set the record straight. That being the case, having no experience with the prior owner/manager, there is no baseline to know how bad it was, leaving the inexperienced to wonder what better might even mean, so I’m not sure that is a great form of introduction to new and potential consumers.

For those who do have context and some prior experience with the past owner/manager, and they had no issues with the place, I’m not sure this is a welcome sign either? For example, when loyal customers learn about new owners or managers, it is not atypical for skepticism and fear to set in.

Last, for those who do have context or some prior experience with the past owner/manager, and they were turned off and haven’t been back, I suppose this kind of signage might persuade those to give the place another try before writing it off, but even so, isn’t there a more personal, direct, and compelling way to provide this kind of information?

In the end, with so many possible mixed messages that can be implied from this sort of abrupt communication, why do you suppose these business signs are so common?