March 4 is National Grammar Day. But in today’s world of texting and tweeting, should good grammar* even be a concern? Should it be a concern in marketing and branding? Yes!

And no.

Why good grammar DOES matter in marketing.

1. Bad grammar can damage a company’s credibility.
Poor language skills can be a red flag that causes your audience to question the quality of the product you’re selling.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents to a survey conducted by Global Lingo said they would not buy from a company that had grammatical errors on its website.
The majority of respondents to a survey conducted by Disruptive Communications cited poor spelling and grammar as the No. 1 factor that would taint their opinion of a brand in social media. Grammar even counts in social media!

2. Bad grammar can make your e-communications look like spam.
According to Eve Blakemore, group manager for the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing team, e-communications that are littered with misspellings and poor grammar are usually fraudulent.

3. Bad grammar can hinder your search engine optimization (SEO) success.
Does spelling and grammar matter when Google evaluates site quality?

Matt Cutts, head of the Google Webspam team, answers this way: “We noticed a while ago that, if you look at the PageRank of a page — how reputable we think a particular page or site is — the ability to spell correlates relatively well with that. So, the reputable sites tend to spell better and the sites that are lower PageRank, or very low PageRank, tend not to spell as well.”

Why good grammar DOES NOT matter in marketing and branding.

1. The Father of Advertising said so.
David Ogilvy, widely regarded as the Father of Advertising, said, “I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” In other words, know your audience — and speak to them in a way that helps them respond to your message.

2. Language is just another one of our creative tools.
“Black and white photography is the correct form of photography and the only form that should be used in marketing.” “The trifold brochure is the proper format for marketing collateral and the only format that should be used.” These statements show the folly of placing limits on any of the tools in our toolbox. Language — just another one of our tools — was created by people for people. Its “rules” evolve as our needs evolve. We’re the boss of it … it’s not the boss of us.

3. Good grammar can break good marketing.
“got milk?” vs. “Do you have milk?” ’Nuff said.

The takeaway.

Marketers need to communicate in a way that helps us achieve marketing goals. If we strategically bend — or even break — a grammar rule along the way, no harm is done. But if we break a grammar rule accidentally, the harm can be devastating.

*Note to sticklers: I realize I’m stretching the definition of “grammar” to be a catch-all for the rules and regulations of language.

About Two Rivers Marketing

Two Rivers Marketing is a full-service business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications agency. Email us with your thoughts or questions at blog@2rm.com.