Proper spelling and grammar are unfortunately suffering skill sets. In most fields of work and study, fundamental to communicating your idea is being able to do so in legible, error-free English. This is especially true in the world of business marketing where bludgeoned websites, advertisements, labels, and even company names can leave your brand looking… in need of revision. Few things compare to the disaster of a confident company message lost entirely due to a blinding spelling error mid-text. We live in a time of short messages and shorter attention spans, and when many are faced with presenting their thoughts in written form, fewer and fewer are able to do so without fault. Bless spellcheck, but it is not and should never be a writer’s sole crutch. If it is, well, it will probably spell disaster later on (sorry). Here is a list of some of the more notable instances of corporate error.
1. Lands’ End
As the story goes, the misplaced apostrophe was an oversight when incorporating the company name. Now, the clothing brand has no choice but to stick out their chests and own it. Even if most people don’t pick up on the error, I can imagine the writer being tormented to the day having that silly mistake looking back at them, time and time again. source
2. Tesco Orange Juice
As recently as this year, Tesco was publicly called out by a grade school teen for using a double superlative–a big faux-pas. If you haven’t picked up on it already, I eloquently threw one into the title of this blogpost for effect. It’s a simple rule, nothing can be greater than the greatest, better than the best, or tastier than the tastiest. That is why “most tastiest” is a redundant overkill. source
3. Reebok’s Quick-Thinking
This one’s too good… This New York targeted subway ad was exploiting the “New York minute” expression, suggesting people take their time. In the same breath, they misspelled, “everything”. You just want to hold a mirror up to their own advice. Unless the error was somehow attempting to mimic the local dialect, I’m not buying it. Ah, the irony sustains me! source
4. Rachel Ray and Her Long-Lost Friend, the Comma.
This example isn’t new, but it does serve as a classic example to show the importance of a comma. Commas are your friend. One tiny line at the foot of a word can change the entire meaning of a sentence. In this instance, the addition of a few commas would have saved the lives of Rachel Ray’s family and dog. Now, they are little more than another meal in Mrs. Ray’s kitchen. Rachel, you monster! source
Also see: “Let’s eat, Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandma!”
5. The unintentionally crass.
Take a second to read the bottom line of this commencement ceremony poster. The horror! This is a traumatic mistake that someone, I promise, has lost sleep over. Let this example serve as a warning for anyone writing copy for, or pitching to any person or institution who works with the public, or publics. Forgetting that one letter dramatically changed the orientation of this school. source
Moral of the story, put your pride aside and get a friend, coworker, or professional editor to examine your work. It’s not a sign of weakness or lack of ability to reach out for a second opinion. Don’t fall victim to poor communication!
*title errors are intentional 😉