The real cost of language mistakes

The cost of language mistakes in branding will be tangible for your business. Language mistakes and inconsistencies may make your brand look unprofessional and lacking integrity in the eyes of potential customers. Copyediting, proofreading and creating a business style sheet will help prevent those problems. A company style sheet will, in particular, help cut the time and cost of editing and proofreading, maintain consistent language and voice unaffected by staff turnover or new writers joining the team, prevent posting erroneous and inconsistent content and showcase the professionalism and trustworthiness of the brand.

In this post, I deviate from my usual self-editing and writing tips content and diving into the marketing world. I decided to write this follow-up post to Why your team needs a style sheet? and create a business style sheet template (free and downloadable at the bottom of this page). Moreover, I aim to discover how poorly written content impacts brands and businesses, their credibility and even revenue based on studies from the US and Europe. In particular, I will examine how language mistakes and inconsistencies can harm businesses.

Businesses have a lot on their plates to stay afloat, and consistency in branding may not appear as a priority. But language mistakes and inconsistencies can be fixed in proofreading and copyediting, and a style sheet can prevent them from reoccurring. So why do we still see those issues on websites, billboards and social media posts?

Language inconsistencies in branding

Dr Jeffrey Lant, who has written extensively about business development, marketing, copywriting and publishing, has developed a guiding marketing principle, the so-called rule of seven. In a nutshell, the rule of seven suggests that the general public must be exposed to something a minimum of seven times before buying it. From this, one could extrapolate that if a brand’s content is inconsistent across different channels, or in other words, lacks integrity, it will likely be a detrimental reflection of the brand.

Brandgility also found it takes a customer an average of five to seven impressions to remember a brand. So how can a customer connect these impressions to one brand if they are not cohesive? Moreover, Brandgility showed that 87% of consumers think brands should work harder to create a consistent experience. This may include improving brand tone and voice consistency and even typography and colours across channels. It also claims that, on average, consistent brand delivery increases revenue by 23%. In other words, the cost of language mistakes prevents companies from increasing their revenue by 23%. Phrased like that, the cost of language mistakes becomes real.

Language mistakes in branding

Mistake-free writing is one of the easiest ways to retain a positive view of a company and avoid the cost of language mistakes in terms of customer trust. For instance, a survey showed that 74% of web users pay attention to the quality of spelling and grammar on company websites, and 59% would avoid doing business with a company that made obvious spelling or grammar mistakes. They may include poorly structured sentences, incorrect punctuation, tense issues or spelling mistakes.

One study asked over a thousand British consumers what most likely would damage their opinion of a brand on social media, and nearly half answered poor spelling or grammar. Another study, this time in the US, found that the cost of language mistakes in business content may amount to nearly $400 billion every year. Furthermore, 81% of survey participants agreed that poorly written material wastes a lot of their time. Moreover, we know that grammatical errors in website text increase bounce rates by 85% and decrease conversion rates by 8%.

How can a style sheet help reduce the cost of language mistakes?

The evidence confirms that language mistakes and inconsistent writing will cost your business. In this light, copyediting and proofreading the content before publishing it and maintaining a style sheet seem necessary. A style sheet, once implemented, can be applied to comms across all channels written by multiple writers. I previously discussed how to create a business style sheet that includes brand tone, language and style (formatting). But because I often work with businesses, I know how busy they are and hesitant to spend time creating something they have not heard about before. So I created a free business style sheet template, downloadable at the bottom of the page. It will help cut the cost of language mistakes and, more specifically, it will help:

  • cut the time and cost of editing and proofreading,
  • standardise the company’s language and formatting decisions,
  • make publishing and printing more efficient,
  • maintain consistent language and voice unaffected by staff turnover or new writers joining the team,
  • prevent posting erroneous and inconsistent content,
  • and ultimately, as shown by numerous studies, represent the professionalism and trustworthiness of the brand.


A brand’s written content must reflect its values and integrity. A style sheet, copyediting and proofreading can help in this department. If you would like to discuss aligning your brand language or still have questions about the style sheet, contact me (and remember to use my early bird discount!). I have helped businesses from various industries to communicate their message clearly and consistently. If you want to hear more from me, including self-editing and writing tips, you can also follow me on MastodonTwitter and LinkedIn or join my newsletter.

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I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) and a student member of the Society of Indexers.

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