Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Grant Cardone, and countless motivational speakers swear like sailors. And people love it. Though, Gary has mentioned he’s missed out on speaking opportunities because of swearing. Which clearly did not matter. Yet I wondered, what effect does swearing have on brands? Come to find out, the results were pretty damn interesting.
A find from Neil Patel at Quicksprout had some intriguing evidence on this impact. Below are the results from Neil’s test via blog post and a newsletter send::
- Open rates did not change, they remained at 26%
- There was a bump in traffic, a 134% increase
- There was a loss of revenue, income dropped 26%
The takeaway is that swearing may gain brand recognition, but, it could also hurt your revenue. For me, this makes sense to why Gary, Tony, and Grant swear so much.
It is attractive because it shows authenticity.
But let’s face it, there are pros and cons to every action.
As pointed out in Neil’s article, brands like Thug Kitchen and Vinomofo were built on swear words. I would also say that engagement with brands like Gary’s and Tony’s are built on swearing.
A History Lesson
The glorious f-bomb traces back to the early 16th century of Germanic origin. Compared to Swedish dialect
An emotion that researchers at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College traced to the amygdala. The amygdala is a “mass of gray matter” in the brain that’s responsible for us experiencing emotions. What happens is that we process swear words the same way we would verbal aggression. The amygdala also controls our memory. Researchers found that swear words help improve memory on a topic. Also, repeated exposure to swearing mitigates any type of fearful response. This all boils down to “taboo words” and “non-taboo words.” Motivational speakers swear to help drive home their message, maybe.
Further research shows that there is also a marketing science to using swear words. Velocity Partners broke it down to be that swearing in marketing needs to be:
Which this all ties into what was stated above, and in continued research. To sum it all up we are then left with:
- Swearing actually implies integrity
- Swearing makes people and brands relatable
- Swearing may actually make you seem more intelligent*
- And if anything, swearing can add humor to a conversation
* What the f*ck?
You may have questioned swearing making people seem more intelligent. And that is fair, I suppose. From the Cornell research paper above you would have spotted this statement, “Verbal fluency is the hallmark of intellectual acumen; the more words one knows and uses, the greater one’s verbal prowess or intelligence.” To bring that back to earth, fucking smart people fucking curse. Verbal fluency is a sign of being clever, having strong wit, and being bold. Now, that may not ring true for the guy or girl swearing at others in a hateful manner. Some people are in fact total jackasses.
In My Mind
There is nothing wrong with dropping a few, or even many, swear words in your conversation. Be it business negotiations or motivational messages. That being said, as always, keep a pulse on your market. Not everyone wants to hear a constant f-this and f-that, but hey, it does drive the message home.