Rules are made to be broken. Right?
I just read a great article on the use of grammar in marketing. I know, it sounds like a contradiction in terms. But Lisa Gerber made some great points about tone, flow and how it’s sometimes better to use fewer letters and say “less”.
But this got me thinking. If grammar rules are ours for the breaking, does that mean it’s okay to use the serious slang of acronyms du jour?
There’s plenty to LOL about
If you were chatting online in the mid-nineties, chances are you LOL’d a lot. It was the easy way to abbreviate an emotional response and show appreciation for the other person's wit. Of course, few people actually laughed out loud. And if they did they’d probably ROFL or LMAO. But 20 years later, LOL is in the lexicon – although most of us cringe when our mums hit us with LOL on Facebook.
The corporate FOMO of yoof
The tricky thing with any of this is authenticity. If mums aren’t allowed to LOL, can a corporate? Obviously it’s all about brand voice, but there’s a fine line between connecting and trying too hard. “Uber Lolz at the Comedy Fest” is one thing. But “Fight FOMO with a great new way to save” is a very different story. And as corporates struggle to connect with the vagaries and fashions of kids, it’s easy to think we should ‘talk their language’. But that’s way more art than science – and often more miss than hit.
The secret to sales is YOLO
Click here. Buy now. Why wouldn’t you? The underlying urgency of just about any sale is powered by the fact that you only live once. Never been to Africa? You haven’t lived. Still thinking about that astonishing new four-door? Get behind the wheel today. Turning every product into the silver bullet of self-actualisation is what we do as marketers. But surely there’s more to life than surrounding ourselves with new stuff?
The tedious reality is JFDI
This is the acronym I like the least. Most of us do. But it’s also the most important. JFDI is about getting things done. Don’t question, don’t procrastinate, just make it happen. In the old days they called it ‘work’. But in our fast-paced, get there tomorrow, FOMO world it so isn’t something you’d tweet about.
So how do we turn grind into great? How do we make stuff fun? There’s no big secret. Simply turn “just” into “happily” and HFDI instead. Mary Poppins did it with a spoonful of sugar. Others take knocks with a pinch of salt. However you make it work, there’s truth in YOLO. So it's best to love the journey while you’re on it.
And ‘Grammar’ becomes ‘The Secret’ – WTF?
Yes, I fell off course. It’s a writer’s prerogative. And Lisa’s post is a much better read. But if you’re looking for a nugget in either, the answer is “Whatever”. Sometimes it’s okay to break grammar rules. And sometimes it’s okay to speak Yoof. But rather than debate the niceties of starting a sentence with “but”, why not make sure it tells the story you’re telling and JFDI? At the end of the day: YOLO.
That’s what I reckon, what do you think?
Michael Goldthorpe runs a creative and strategic consultancy called Hunch. He also infrequently rants at strawpollofone.com
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