Nearly two-thirds (64%) of British consumers either dislike or hate the way brands use slang words, such as 'bae' or 'YOLO' in their marketing communications, according to a survey by digital marketing agency I-COM.

There were certain slang terms whose use was most frowned upon by consumers. The list of words below are those that more than 50% of respondents said that they hate when used by brands:

  • Bae (63%)
  • Babes (61%)
  • Abs (57%)
  • Goals AF (56%)
  • Totes (56%)
  • YOLO (55%)
  • Sus (54%)
  • Fleek (54%)
  • Ship (54%)
  • Drag (54%).

Graham Allchurch, head of digital marketing at I-COM, said: “Marketers are always told to communicate in the language of their target audience, which leads to brands using slang terms. However, they run the risk of coming across as inauthentic, or totally alienating a segment of the population who don’t use language like this. As we’ve seen here, this can be a real turn off.

"We think it’s always best to be as authentic as possible, and for brand voice to come from within the company rather than be dictated entirely by the target audience or driven by the desire to be considered a peer of those in that target demographic.

"We want companies to spend more time developing their own brand voice - something that is often neglected - and ensuring all content, from words on a website to social media posts, are consistent and appropriate for
their audience."


By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

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