Sloppy Spelling = Sloppy Branding

Before I begin…do you know how sorely tempted I was to include a spelling mistake in that headline? My sense of cheekiness and love of irony were in full flow as my fingers hovered over the keyboard. But then I remembered the point of this post is:

A spelling mistake is like any other mistake – try to avoid making it.

It seems obvious, wouldn’t you say? If you want to create a positive impression of your personal brand, show you’ve paid attention to how that brand is coming across – including your spelling. Because if you don’t pay attention, the opposite effect can happen.

May I present Exhibit A M’Lud. (Names have been obscured to protect the not-so-innocent.)

If you were looking for a new recruiting agency, would you be impressed with that headline and its spelling mistake? Would you think, “Wow, they’re obviously on the ball. They care enough about getting their own business right they’ll definitely care about mine”?

Or would you think, “Duh. Someone’s not paid attention. I won’t be using them.” (Of course, you may well be looking for a recruting agency, in which case, bingo!)

Imagine the same scenario, only it’s a message that you’ve typed. What’s the spelling mistake saying now? (I think you see where I’m going with this.)

Aim high, even if you hit lower

Contrary to what you might think, I’m not completely daft. I know it’s impossible to be 100% accurate 100% of the time.

And I know that, on occasion, I’m as guilty as anyone of the odd bit of slap-dash communication. Heck, if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll have spotted the odd typo over the years. (And thanks to those readers who drop me a line to point them out, knowing I’d rather be told than let the mistake sit there.)

But if you aim for 100% and get 98%, that’s still going to fare better for your personal brand than if you aim lower and end up lower still…or if you don’t aim for anything at all.

How often do you take the time to check your spelling? To re-read that email before you send it? To double-check those presentation slides before you display them? Do you think it matters? Or do you think there are more important things to be getting on with? I’d love to read your comments in the little box below!

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21 responses to “Sloppy Spelling = Sloppy Branding”

  1. Nikki says:

    I read something recently that said being pedantic about spelling was classist, and could be seen as racist, based on the fact that not everyone has access to decent education.
    Obviously there’s a load of stuff there to argue about, but for work stuff I will always, always point out a typo. I want my team to be remembered for the great stuff we do, not the errors.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      Blimey! I’d not heard charge levelled at people who try to spell properly before. (The world’s gone politically-correct mad!) In my case, I left school at 16 with only my GCSEs and was largely brought up by a single mother, so I feel the argument falls down a bit there 😉 You’re right to say ‘be remembered for the good stuff, not the errors’.

  2. Jeff says:

    In pre-computer days, advertising agencies and larger art studios would allocate someone to proof read. Not any more. Expensive books and plush bookazines often suffer from punctuation, grammatical and spelling errors as well as misplaced captions. People rely on the spell-check but we know haw that falls short of ideal. There was a time when I might bother to inform these publications over their transgressions, but not any more. I have too many of my own to look out for!

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      When I published my book I’d got three different people to proof read it and still a couple of typos surfaced down the line. At least the aim is to get it right and show we care about spelling!

  3. Tony O says:

    Totally agree. I recently got a LinkedIn connection request from someone I didn’t know who had, I assume, mis-spelt their own surname. These days all software and e-mail packages have the ability to check spelling and grammar, so they can even intercept typos like “form” when you had meant to type “from” (very definitely one of mine). If it is important to get it right, then it is always worthwhile spending a few moments to run the check. I have learnt how to simplify my English following some of the tips, and you can sometimes get the quiet buzz of satisfaction of finding that you had got all of your spelling right. It’s like being back at school, but without getting a gold star.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      You’re right. It’s amazing how canny these spell checkers are these days. Grammarly is also a tool people can use to simplify their English – as you’ve done.

  4. Paul Jonsen says:

    Jennifer, your comments should not be solely aimed at spelling mistakes but also at simple grammatical errors such as the spate of using adjectives as adverbs over the last few years. examples, Live Curious (on our screens at the moment), Drive Safe (Volkswagen of all people) and many more infuriating examples. Commenting on above, I was brought up on Bransholme council estate in Hull and educated at Bransholme High School (comprehensive) so would find it very amusing for someone to accuse me of being ‘classist’. there is nothing wrong with the language evolving but dropping all of the rules, spelling and grammar, will only lead to chaos.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      There’s a balance to be had I think. If language didn’t progress at all, we’d still be saying ‘thee’ and ‘thou’. But there’s definitely a limit at which point the communication becomes chaotic, as you say.

  5. Denis Kaye says:

    I react very badly to spelling mistakes and regard them as signs of carelessness and lack of attention to detail. However, I think I am more inclined to forgive the odd typo than I am to forgive poor grammar or the use of cliche-ridden ‘business-speak’. Poor grammar, more than poor spelling, leads to mis-understanding, ambiguity and time-wasting.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      I’m quick to judge bad grammar but then try and stop myself,knowing I’ve been guilty on occasion (but still probably less than most).

  6. Martin Smith says:

    Punctuation. Punctuation. Punctuation.
    The panda eats, shoots and leaves.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      Much like “Let’s eat Grandma!” versus “Let’s eat, Grandma!” As they say, punctuation can save lives 🙂

  7. Nicola Ralston says:

    I’m am in total agreement with Paul Jonsen about the sad “death of the adverb” (as in “he played brilliant”). This is not simply a pedantic moan, but links directly to the first comment about correct use of grammar potentially being being seen as posh, and hence classist. I’m convinced that sports commentators, for example, deliberately dumb down their English so as to have as broad an appeal as possible. Should we care? I find myself deliberately avoiding convenient Latin terms (such as “ex ante”) in case they are not understood or considered inappropriate, but is that simply reverse snobbery?

  8. Colin Smith says:

    Love it, and spot on.

    I recall a time when we used a word processor, (showing my age), and posted letters. I arrived for the meeting with my prospect and after sitting down he went off to make me a cup of coffee. My letter was on his desk. I noticed with horror that he had circled, in red, a spelling mistake. He did not say anything, but I learned a lesson.

    Back to the Exhibit…I thought you were referring to the grammar in the advert or even the spelling in the text message. I could not copy and paste so typed the advert into Grammarly…no mistakes, obviously. Eventually, after re-reading did I notice the spelling mistake, d’oh.

  9. Nikki says:

    I would like to submit the typo of the day, I just saw the ‘word’ no-chalant on a 360 feedback form. It took me a few moments to work out what they meant!

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      Maybe we can make this a new thing: typo of the day. Happy to accept this as the first submission.

  10. Matthew Cox says:

    Guilty as charged as making a judgement about a company with bad spelling. If I go into a restaurant and see the menu spelt wrong, I hope they pay more attention to the cooking!

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      I’m the same when I’m reading a book. No matter how good it is I can’t help but think it’s a little less good when I spot typos in it. Daft really, when the content is the same.

  11. Matthew Cox says:

    The worst menu spelling I ever saw had Mediterranean tagliatelle spelt wrong in so many places!

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