Don’t call me ‘bae’: 64 per cent of consumers hate brands using slang terms

New research highlights the importance of a brand knowing its audience and getting its voice and tone correct.

According to a survey by digital marketing agency I-COM, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of British people either dislike or hate the way brands use slang terms, such as ‘bae’ or ‘YOLO’ in their marketing communications.

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

Bae (63 per cent), babes (61 per cent), abs (57 per cent) and goals AF (56 per cent) sit high on the top of the table of most hated words and phrases.

Totes (56 per cent), YOLO (55 per cent) and sus (54 per cent) hang around the middle of the table, while fleek (54 per cent), ship (54 per cent) and drag (54 per cent) prop up the list.

Graham Allchurch, head of digital marketing at I-COM, says, ‘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.’

Further reading on slang terms

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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