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Key Message Blunders

Part One: Presumptuous Use of Your


1. Presumptuous Use of Your


In promoting their company, many people like to present its products or services as already adopted by or already belonging to their market. This is how the presumptuous use of your often appears in slogans and mottoes. The basic problem with this is its confounding falsity. There is a better way.

Consider these examples:

  1. Your view with a photo of the view from a new condominium development.
  2. Your family pharmacy on the storefront sign of a drugstore.
  3. Your outdoor store since 1956 on the billboard for an outdoor-activity outfitter.

The falsity of such statements is intuitive to anybody but their authors.

  • To example 1, one might respond, “No. Not my view.”
  • The same would apply with example 2. One might respond, “My family does not have a pharmacy.”
  • When encountering example 3: "I've never had an outdoor store. Besides, 1956 was before my time.”

The crux of the problem: The word your always speaks to the reader as the recipient of the message. Your never speaks for the reader as if thinking it in self-reference.

Moreover, your never means my or our. Hence, “Our new president” could be a perfect statement to accompany a photo of the recently appointed president of a company in the company's internal newsletter. Because of its non-inclusive positioning, "Your new president" would register relatively awkwardly.

A good key message plants an intuitively acceptable idea into the mind of the reader instantly.

Unless a promoter can present to their market what actually belongs to or has been adopted by every person in their market as their own, the use of your has no place before the market’s eyes. It is effective at confounding people and ineffective at getting into their minds favourably.

Better to articulate an authentic, basically relevant key message that reflects the thoughts and feelings shared by people who match the ideal client profile.

- Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


Click for Key Message Blunders 2

Click for Key Message Blunders 3

Click for Key Message Blunders 4

Click for an overview of key messages

Click for three reasons why independent businesses need key messages to succeed


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