By Kimberly Crossland
The other day I sent an email to someone in my network.
I “accidentally” (but not quite accidentally) dropped the s-bomb.
I wasn’t too worried about it because I’ve had some pretty in-depth, head-to-head conversations with this person.
But when he responded a bit shocked, I had to take a step back and wonder, “Is cussing as a part of business communication really so bad?”
In a recent “The Three Things” post here on Spin Sucks, Howie Goldfarb cited the shocking number 3,000. That number represents the number of times the average person sees a logo each day across multiple channels.
As terrifyingly high as it is – it proves beyond a doubt that business communicators today have the immense burden of standing out in a busy world.
Is cussing a way to rise above the noise in your business communications?
Some businesses think so. Good move? Bad move? Let’s debate.
Finding Your Voice Online
If you follow me on my blog or any of my social media outlets, you know that I hold honest, transparent business communication in high regard.
But let’s be honest – there’s a limit to how many of your cards you need to reveal online.
The goal in business communications is to reveal your best side — whatever that may be.
For some businesses, the best voice to use is the one that mimics the little voice in your customer’s head.
For example, if you own a cupcake shop, you might choose to have your voice be the indulgent little devil on everyone’s shoulder saying, “Go ahead, have one, you can workout tomorrow.”
For other businesses, the best voice might be more arrogant, pushing customers to grow a pair, cut through the crap, and be better versions of themselves.
No matter which voice you choose, you have to decide whether infusing colorful language into your writing and speech is a smart choice for you.
Every business does it differently.
Erika Napoletano made a name for herself through her open use of swear words.
On the flip-side, the team at Fizzle includes swear words in some of their writing, but bleep them out during their podcast.
P.S.: I once caught a podcast where the bleep machine didn’t work correctly. You could hear all of the swear words, but the word “the” was bleeped out a few seconds later. Very funny, and one of my favorite episodes.
I Said, Do You Speak-a My Language
Others are cussing in their business communications, but what’s right for you?
It’s impossible to make everyone happy. Truth be told, it’s terrible marketing to try to make everyone happy. To decide which communication style is right for you consider the language you use in your daily vocabulary, and the language your customers use.
If you cuss normally, and have no problem being considered foul-mouthed now and then, do your thing.
Don’t be fake. If there’s value behind your message, you can still put your brand’s best foot forward, while conveying a strong, clear, honest message.
What’s more important is to speak how your customers speak in their day-to-day exchanges.
If they’re as innocent as my dear mom, perhaps it’s better to choose less colorful language to resonate with them. If your customers cuss, cuss back at them!
Well, maybe not at them, but feel free to speak the language that hits them in the core and gets them excited.
The language you use plays a big role in your brand image. Ultimately, your choice of whether or not to cuss in your marketing or public relations is up to you. It’s about being real and being your best.
Business Communication with Your Customers
As you consider what’s right for you, decide if cussing will make your brand one that you can stand behind and be proud of. If the answer is yes, go get ‘em. If the answer is, “Maybe I sometimes let a cuss word slip through, but I’m a little scared to try it in my business”, let loose and see what happens – you might be surprised!
Have you tried cussing in your business communications? Let us know how it went down.