15 November 2017

Brand impacts: Poor grammar and spelling in social media

I am surprised and dismayed at how regularly I see poor grammar, spelling mistakes and typos in business social media posts. And not just one-off errors, but multiple mistakes.


The importance of good grammar and quality writing in all business communication cannot be overstated. It’s crucial in presenting your business as professional and trustworthy. When business writing is poor, it can quickly negatively impact your reputation. And that’s not how you want to differentiate your brand.

Making an occasional error in business social media posts is forgivable, and shows we are human. You might argue that it adds authenticity! Even those of us who are fussy about spelling and grammar make mistakes. (If you do notice an error in your post, edit and fix it immediately.)

A Facebook post by a small business offering sales training services prompted me to write this. In the post they had used ‘too’ instead of ‘to’, ‘their’ instead of ‘there’, and ‘weeks’ without an apostrophe when one was needed. And being extra picky, I’d point out the irregular use of double spaces (these are a hangover from typewriter days and unnecessary in modern typography – they are jarring and break the flow of reading). As well as using too many dots in ellipses (which consist of three full stops … with a space either side).

These errors may seem trivial, and some people wouldn’t notice them or care, however, those of us who are particular about such things (and there are many of us) would be left with a negative association with that brand. It made me question the quality and professionalism of the sales training the company would offer.

If you’re not good with spelling and grammar and want to avoid damaging your brand asset, here are a few tips:

  • Review your post before publishing it, and check anything you’re uncertain of.
  • Educate yourself on the common mistakes you make and develop a cheatsheet you can refer to.
  • Write your posts in Word and use the spelling and grammar check (however, this is not foolproof)
  • Get a colleague who is a spelling and grammar whiz to check your writing.
  •  Invest in a professional writer/editor.
By improving the writing and grammar in your social media, you will protect your brand. It’s one of those things that no one notices you’re doing well, but it certainly gets noticed when you’re not. And it can impact your bottom-line.

15 October 2017

Have you defined your brand personality?

Brand personality Maybury Ink.

Brand personality is attributing human characteristics to a brand.

Having a defined brand personality differentiates your business brand from other brands and helps you to stand out and break through the clutter. It will guide the way you express and portray your brand (how your brand speaks, behaves and looks), and ensure your brand is represented consistently. It will help the right people to connect with your brand, and increase brand awareness.

If your business doesn’t have a defined brand personality, it’s worth determining one. (And then reviewing your brand alignment and strategy against it!)

There are various brand personality models, however, I think for small businesses it’s satisfactory to select a set of keywords to describe the essence of your business personality. Three (max. four) are enough.

For example, an organic produce company might define it’s brand personality as honest, friendly and principled.

A high-end hair salon could describe it’s brand personality as glamorous, exclusive and professional.

You can use the extensive (but not exhaustive) list of keywords above to help define your business’s brand personality. Or use a thesaurus to help you come up with the right words. Nuances are important – happy, cheerful and exuberant mean similar things, but each word gives a different feeling (this is also important for your brand language and writing).

Once you have a brand personality defined, your visual identity and brand language and voice will flow from this. And you can get your branding on target.

07 September 2017

Innovation and adaptability: Small Business BIG Ideas 2017

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Innovation and adaptability were key themes from the inspiring keynote speakers at the Small Business BIG Ideas event held on 4 September, as part of the Small Business Festival Victoria. I’d recommend learning more from these great speakers:
  • Gus Balbontin, Investor | Founder | Advisor
  • Dr Amantha Imber, Founder and CEO of Inventium

I jotted some notes to share.

Gus discussed disruption and business transformation.

  • It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
  • Adaptability in business is critical, with the rate of change getting faster and faster. (See the great slide above on disruption.)
  • Keep moving and improving. Simulate. Iterate. ‘Small is beautiful’.
  • Don’t do things following the system owned by the system.
  • The moral of the story about the tortoise and the hare isn’t that slow and steady wins the race, it’s don’t be arrogant and slack off!
  • Focus on customers and their needs (which change all the time). Fix customer problems, not your business’s problem.
  • Don’t ‘plan’ more than you ‘do’.
  • Innovation is the result of curiosity, courage and resilience.

Amantha shared some ways to boost innovation, and identified the need to replicate and repeat it.


1.     Find frustrations, not ideas. Frustrations are great opportunities to innovate. Ask clients about frustrations they’ve had with your business.
2.     Crush assumptions. They fence in our thinking.
3.     Have depth and breadth of expertise. Don’t be blinkered and focus on depth. You need breadth and depth for creativity and innovation. We are creatures of habit – go ‘wider’ (e.g. when you read the paper, explore different sections).
4.     Never make big decisions after lunch! In the morning our decision-making battery is full, but as we make decisions through the day (including the small ones like what to wear and what to eat for breakfast) we get decision fatigue. This leads to taking the easy way out.
5.     Run experiments. Innovation is risky, so test the riskiest hypothesis to minimise this risk. Experiments should be cheap and quick.

#SmallBusFestVic
amantha-imber-innovation-maybury-ink-communication-design-branding

15 August 2017

A matter of time


I recently wrote about the correct way to write dates. Now it’s time to tackle times. However, times are a little trickier, as there are various acceptable ways to write them.

The key is to be consistent with the style you choose to ensure the professionalism of your business writing. Your preferred style of writing the time should be added to your business’s writing style guide.

The modern, visually clean way to write the time is presented in these examples:

9am
12.30pm

Capitals should be avoided (not 9AM or 12.30PM).
No full stops between ‘am’ and ‘pm’ (not 9a.m. or 12.30p.m.).
No colons (not 12:30pm).
Some people prefer a space after the numbers (9 am, 12.30 pm).

As you can see, I choose not to use two zeros to indicate even hours (e.g. 9.00am), unless in a particular situation it looks odd not include them, or impacts on readability or comprehension.

Time spans

To show a time span use an en dash:

7–11am
11am–3pm

To write times spans in prose:

We are open from 7am to 11am.
Lunch is available between 11am and 3pm.

24 hour time

Four digits are always used for 24 hour time. The first two for the hours, the last two for minutes. For example:

0900 hours (9am)
1230 hours (12.30pm)
2020 hours (8.20pm)

If you need help to hone your business writing, or to develop a writing style guide, contact me.

31 July 2017

The right way to write dates


Yes, there is a correct way to write dates. A way that clearly communicates, is logical and visually clean. Writing the date in the correct way will add to the professionalism of your business writing. Be sure to add it to your business’s writing style guide.

The correct format is:

1 August 2017


No punctuation. No ‘st’. No ‘of’. It’s much more appealing than:

August 1, 2017 or
1st August, 2017


If you need to use the name of the day, a comma is used to separate it from the date:

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


The correct way to write dates in figures is:

1.8.2017 or
1.8.17

Using slashes is not technically correct, such as 1/8/2017. Slashes should be used to indicate things like alternatives (yes/no), abbreviations (a/c), fractions (1/3) and per (60km/h). Financial years are often written incorrectly using a slash, e.g. 2016/17. Instead it should be 2016–17, using a en dash.

If you need help to sharpen your business writing, or to develop a writing style guide for your business, get in touch with me.

22 June 2017

Is your branding on target?



A brand is a valuable asset. It must be carefully crafted to appropriately represent a business and to resonate with the right people.

At the heart of branding is an identifiable logo, combined with a strong visual identity. The visual elements need to be aligned with business vision and values, brand personality and voice, products and services, and customer experience and expectations.

Authenticity, clarity and consistency across a brand are critical.

Is your business brand consistent? Is your brand correctly aligned? If not, it might be time to invest in reviewing it.

09 May 2017

Visual identity for the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme

The Executive Committee of the International Energy Agency Solar Heating and Cooling Programme is aware that brand identity is a valuable asset, and visual consistency is an essential part of good communication strategy. With the Programme’s work achieved through the collaborative efforts of multiple members across multiple countries, this is a challenge.

The IEA SHC Programme recently engaged me to improve their visual identity and its uniform application. I created a visual identity for them based around their existing logo, and encompassing colour palette, design elements and fonts. To help improve consistency, I documented the visual identity in an official style guide, and developed Word and PowerPoint templates for reports, presentations, stationery and promotional materials.

The Programme will roll out their strengthened brand identity as they continue their global promotion of the use of solar thermal energy.

To find out how I can help to energise your brand visit http://mayburyink.com.au

To find out more about the great work of the IEA SHC Programme visit https://www.iea-shc.org/