A branding blog of practical advice, ideas and examples.

Every week the Brand Insight Blog offers deep, insightful articles you can use to launch a new brand or improve your existing business ... read more →

Enough, already, with the exclamation punctuation.

by John Furgurson on October 18, 2015

I’m an Advertising guy. And ad guys are not nit-pickers when it comes to grammatical details like sentence structure and punctuation. We write how normal people talk, not how english teachers write.

So it’s pretty unusual for me to take issue with anything grammar related. But someone has to speak out about all the exclamation points popping up in marketing circles. If I see one more boring marketing cliche punctuated with three of these !!! I’m going to scream.

exclamation_mark1Exclamation points are everywhere these days… in social media posts, on home pages, in emails, ad copy, and even in straight-forward product descriptions.

“All natural! Gluten-free! GMO-free! Vegan!!!”

I have news for you…  There’s no correlation between the number of exclamation points and the effectiveness of your copy.  Just the opposite, in fact. The more exclamation points, the less believable it is.

Yelling never works, and that’s the effect of all the exclamation points. Like a hyped-up used car salesman, in your face…”Seating for four! Steering wheel!  Air bags!” Putting exclamation points on your list of features is not going to make them more compelling.

Give me a break.

(See how I did NOT use an exclamation point right there. I could have said, “give me a break!” But nothing says desperate, amateur writer faster than a bunch of  exclamation points at the end of  a sentence.)

You’ll love the new John Deere riding mowers!

The longest, straightest driver ever!

Better comfort! Better feel! Better performance!

Your whole family will love it!!

Really?  Those two punctuation marks transform the sentence from a statement of fact into a boisterous claim. It’s just not a normal tone of voice, and it’s going to affect your credibility.

In business communications, credibility is critical. Your message needs to sound believable. Professional. Sensible. When you add the exclamation mark it sounds like your pants are on fire.3027633

You can add excitement and immediacy to your marketing copy without adding exclamation points. Just try saying something meaningful. Different. And honest. Start with a value proposition that holds water and resonates with your target audience. Then write some micro-scripts that cement that idea in their minds. Test them on  people. Get a second opinion and don’t be afraid to re-write. You have to be patient and persistent if you want copy that really sells.

Finally, try crafting a headline that is relevant and intriguing on its own, without all the grade school punctuation.








Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

October 1, 2015

Clarity is the key to many things… Relationships, international relations, politics and parenting would all benefit from more clarity. But let’s stick to the subject at hand; Clarity in branding, advertising and marketing communications in general. Doesn’t matter what form… from a quick tweet or a simple email to an in-depth webinar or long-term TV campaign, […]

Read the full article →

Sorting through the endless “marketing opportunities.”

September 11, 2015

The marketing landscape isn’t really a landscape anymore. It’s more like a fast moving landslide, snapping trees and engulfing unsuspecting business owners up to their ears in muck. Most clients I know are trying to wear so many different hats, they can’t begin to sort out all the “marketing opportunities,” much less make sound strategic decisions regarding […]

Read the full article →

Working together for more effective advertising.

June 7, 2015

Planning, creating, producing and managing a great ad campaign is not easy. There are details galore, many moving pieces, and an interesting array of individuals who all need to come together to make it happen. When it does, it’s really quite magical. It’s a rare marriage of art and salesmanship that produces spectacular results. So […]

Read the full article →

How to create a website that works for your brand.

March 27, 2015
A concept from the Mini USA  website homepage.

For some reason, many people think that “branded” websites won’t sell product or produce a steady stream of leads. And on the other hand, they don’t think “Ecommerce sites” will help their branding efforts. As if the two are mutually exclusive. Well, here’s the good news: You really can have a website that performs well AND […]

Read the full article →

“Brand” Trumps Managerial Incompetence.

February 19, 2015

I need to stop being surprised by managerial incompetence. Honestly. I need to reframe my expectations and just be pleasantly surprised when I encounter an exception to the rule. Because everywhere I turn, knumbskulls, nuckleheads and nitwits rule the managerial world. Witness the retail store owner who has no handle on her inventory issues or labor […]

Read the full article →

Information is killing your advertising.

February 6, 2015

Contrary to popular belief, information is is the enemy of persuasion. Not the friend. Most people think they can convince, sell or persuade by piling on facts and stats. Well, it might make you feel smart, but it’s not going to produce results. In fact, the more info you stuff into an ad, the less you’ll […]

Read the full article →
google-site-verification: google2637d0a92b6ad071.html