Crap Slogans

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No brand is complete without a crap, ungrammatical slogan.

You might expect that people whose living is made from the creation and maintenance of ‘brands’ might, as a point of personal pride given their awful choice of gainful employment, have even so much as a flimsy grasp of the mechanics of the language in which their trade is plied.

You might expect them to want to create brand constructs that don’t set the teeth on edge or have their potential customers mentally correcting their howlers.

You might. But you will be disappointed. Because the essential component of a modern brand is a nonsensical slogan, usually consisting of a verb and an adjective.

Drive confident.
Eat fresh.
Live strong.
Think different.
Leave happy.
Play thirsty.
Think small.
Travel well.
Fly right.
Be direct.
Think smart.

It doesn’t take much to correct any of these, of course. But we shouldn’t have to, any more than we should have to explain communication essentials to anyone who engages as follows:

How are you?

Yeah, I’m good.

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Me, myself and myselves

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Using “myself” as a more emphatic form of “me” isn’t only not a thing, it’s also deeply wrong.

The call centres started it. “Please do not hesitate to contact myself. Is it an account you hold with ourselves? Would you like myself to put yourself through to their extension?”

Having misappropriated reflexive and emphatic pronouns for use whenever me, you or us sounds too curt, too informal or too lacking in syllables, call centres have started to make less sense than ever before. And the default reaction, when challenged, is incomprehension. Which is ironic.

“How can I contact yourself, when I’m not you?”
“Eh?”

And of course, from the call centre it travels directly into business speak and thereafter into common parlance, with more and more complex layers of incorrectly-deployed reflexive pronouns building into ever more dizzying heights of incomprehensibility. Was it myself that you spoke to? Yes, I think it might have been yourself, and also herself over there. What can I get for yourself? Myself, I’d like a cup of tea, and my sister will have coffee. Could you get that for ourselves? Whose is the coffee? Oh it’s myself’s, thank you.

Every jarring misuse of “ourselves” overcompensates for the misconception that simple words like “us” are in some way less professional or meaningful; in Yorkshire it also over-corrects for a tendency to use phrases like “us customers” to mean “our customers”: if ‘us’ is wrong, we’d better use something more elaborate.

Then again, in Yorkshire the error gets compounded again when, apropos of nothing, the word ourselves suddenly becomes “us-selves”.

Then they invent horrors such as “their-selves”. Shudder. The creature is alive!

I’m not sure how this juggernaut of bad grammar can be halted. Perhaps an instructive laminated sheet on the wall of every veal-fattening pen in every call centre the length and breadth of the country, containing some simple rules. Obviously nobody can be bothered with remembering tedious grammar any more, and in any case it boils down to this: if it sounds stupid, it probably is.