Expertise
4 mins read

How negative words can undermine your business and why title case is out

Marketing
Content Marketing Strategist
Marketing

Content Marketing Strategist

Content marketing is nothing if not an arms race.

Marketers and copywriters are constantly looking to innovate in the near-endless conflict of keywords, evergreen content, punchy ad copy, ad infinitum. What a lot of people forget though, are the seemingly insignificant things that can make all the difference in successful content. Things such as title case, which is too often reduced to a mere style choice, or using overtly negative words in product or website copy. It’s these two elements that we’re taking a look at today, so without further delay...

The words you use matter

Well, duh, but taking extra care of your choice of words in both B2C and B2B interactions is so important. For the former, you absolutely must make certain that you don’t use language that could affect their opinion of your brand, which could lead to them not buying your product, or using a service. With this in mind, we get to the first stress point (irony incoming):

You should NOT use negative words such as stress or hassle, unless they’re modified (ie. stress-free experience, carefree, hassle-free journey, etc.). Here’s an example of Evernote promising to reduce stress, without saying it:

It’s a truism in life that the more you become an expert in something, the more you surround yourself with experts, and the harder it becomes to explain whatever it is you’re an expert in to novices. 

This is accurate for countless businesses, who spend almost every working day fine tuning and really getting to the depths of whatever product or service is being sold. The longer this process goes on, the greater the likelihood of getting to the point where you can succumb to the curse of knowledge, which in turn can undermine your messaging. 

Imagine you’re an IT security company struggling to attract new customers. You take one look at your landing page and it’s peppered with complex terminology, incoherent data, and infographics that’d make Jackson Pollock cringe. Your website makes it clear that your triple-encrypted thingamajig is the optimal approach to limiting DoS backdoor attacks from Neo, but what does that even mean for the average customer? Instead, why not just make it clear that your product protects them from criminals when they use their computer. You can still go into the details later, but your landing page should not be filled with details only an expert would understand.
 

Language on websites, in general, should be as simple as possible. Some easy examples: 

Instead of

Try

Ensure

Make sure

Request

Ask

Therefore

So

Utilise

Use

Query

Question

Title case

Small disclaimer, the following is going to be a little biased, so take what I say with a pinch of salt. And with that out the way, title case is bad and I firmly believe it makes the copy look and read worse. It’s needlessly clunky and doesn’t actually give the ‘extra weight’ to words in the way a lot of people seem to think they do.

 

Try reading the following without squinting:

Title Case Really Isn’t That Great and Makes Reading Content That Should Be Easy to Read More Difficult Than It Should Be.

Now read the same sentence written in standard sentence case:

Title case really isn’t that great and makes reading content that should be easy to read more difficult than it should be.

 

See what I mean? Unless something is a product name or something that must be capitalised (eg. legal terminology, etc), or a specific design decision, sentence case should be the default. Your UX (user experience) needs to be as smooth as possible, especially if you work in something challenging such as home moving or law. Title case is, frankly, the antithesis to an easy-to-understand UX journey that should surely be your default approach to everything you do on your website (and beyond). 

Finally, whilst it isn’t title case, all caps (on CTA buttons for example) just looks terrible and shouldn’t be used. EVER.

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