A colleague and friend, Tim Welbourn, nearly found himself texting the British Transport Police after seeing something that didn’t look right while aboard the Thameslink train service… before realising that it was a missing apostrophe.

It reminded me of some of the famous typos and grammatical mistakes I’ve seen online over the years… and they have a bigger impact on your brand than you might think.


H&M t-shirt | Bad Marketing

Definitely not genius from H&M

KMart | Bad Marketing

Kmart: Whoever wrote this sign could do with these supplies.

Bad Marketing

Old Navy – The repeat offender: Missing apostrophe

What does good look like?

But does it really matter if the odd typo slips into your copy? Emphatically… yes! Here’s the proof.

Disruptive Communications surveyed 1,003 UK consumers about the factors that would be most likely to damage their view of a brand. The number one response – by far – from 42.5% of respondents, was “poor spelling or grammar”.

Global Lingo also conducted research, and their survey of 1,029 people found that 59% “would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material”.

As well, 74% answered ‘yes’ when asked “whether or not they tended to notice the quality of spelling or grammar on a company’s website”.

And it’s not just the text you write that can impact your business… Websites with well-written product reviews have higher sales than websites with reviews containing poor grammar and spelling. Panos Ipeirotis, a professor at NYU, found that the demand for a hotel on Tripadvisor increased if the hotel had reviews free of spelling and grammar mistakes.

It’s true, poor spelling and grammar can damage your brand. And while it’s not necessarily true that good grammar will therefore increase sales or improve the perception people have of your brand, it’s certainly a hygiene factor that most people expect a good standard of writing.

Moving forward

Did you know that 10% of the UK population are dyslexic? Or that the average reading age in the UK is 9 years? And that 138,000 people in England and Wales speak no English? [UK Census data]

Creating good communications is already incredibly tough because of this. When we produce content that has errors in it, we’re making it even harder for ourselves to communicate effectively. We’ve all made mistakes in writing and not given ourselves time to proofread our content. And no doubt we will again – but we should endeavour to write well for the sake of our brands.

Online resources such as the Hemmingway app and Grammarly are helpful, as are the in-built readability tools in Microsoft Word (that you might not know you had).

Please do comment with any other spelling and grammar mistakes you’ve seen to help inspire us to good grammar!