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Poor communications a laughing matter?

Last night, I went to the launch of the Whitehorse Business Week at Headland and was entertained by guest speaker Russell Gilbert.

Although I have seen Russell many times on TV shows and the like, I hadn’t seen a full routine from him before. I really enjoyed it – he was funny and had us all laughing, but also showed he can do magic and sing.

Two of his jokes in particular were based on communications so I thought I’d share them today.

Multiple meanings

wet floor warning signHave you seen one of those yellow signs warning of ‘wet floor’?

Russell apparently cannot see one of those signs without looking for a bucket of water (ok, I’m using a more appropriate source of liquid!) so he can wet the floor.

In this case, the signs are not incorrect but Russell spotted that ‘wet’ can be an adjective (as intended on these signs) or a verb (as the instruction Russell assumed).

For any important message, it is worth checking for alternative versions of a word to be sure you aren’t saying something you really don’t want to say!

Clarity through order

bottle of cleaning liquidRussell also spoke about cleaning products, which may not seem very funny!

Many cleaning products include the sentence ‘cleans and kills germs’ but Russell asked why would you bother cleaning the germs before killing them?

Do the germs say ‘I’m dying but I’ve never looked so clean, it’s great!’?

Ok, we all know they mean ‘cleans a surface and kills germs on that surface’. And it’s good they’ve gone for a shorter version to give their message clarity.

They could make their message much clearer simply by changing the order of that sentence – ‘kills germs and cleans’ is much clearer and doesn’t give comedians an opportunity to pick on it :).

However, kill germs and cleans sounds wrong because we are so used to the other order – would you think that’s a negative or a positive for changing the order if you were producing a new cleaning label?

Do marketers want the emphasis on cleaning or killing germs? Would that be a factor in which order those words are placed?

Would your label aim for clarity or marketing emphasis or customer familiarity?

 

* images courtesy of 123rf and Tash Hughes 

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