Last week’s viral internet sensation, A Cheeky Nando’s was not only great fun (at least for those like me with a less sophisticated sense of humour), it was also a fine example of how the use of jargon or the vernacular can alienate large numbers of your potential target audience.
If you haven’t caught up with the meme, a quick Google of ‘Cheeky Nando’s’ will bring you up to date. I haven’t posted a link as there is a lot of strong language in the threads and is possibly not safe for work.
But what is a cheeky Nando’s?
The string of events was triggered by an anonymous American asking a perfectly innocent question on Tumblr: “BUT WHAT DOES CHEEKY NANDOS *MEAN* IT HAS TO HAVE A MEANING.”
The answers flooded in, but the poor poster was left mired even deeper in unintelligible British nonsense. “Bantersaurus Rex”, “moola” and “ledge” all make regular appearances, along with countless colloquial terms for being drunk – a topic that Michael McIntyre has shown is as bamboozling as it is infinite.
What can copywriters learn from this?
OK, so this was all just a lot of fun, but there is a serious side, and that is how easy it is to miss a huge part of your audience with some badly chosen words. More often than not there will be no Anonymous to put their head above the parapet to ask the obvious question.
Just as not everyone understands what a cheeky Nando’s is, not everyone speaks the same business language as you and your colleagues. Jargon and acronyms that are in daily use in your office may make little sense to an outsider.
Despite this, many organisations still end up using these terms with their customers and the general public. Don’t fall into this trap with your own communications—check them with a friend or relative who doesn’t know your business well, or better still, draft in some help from outside the organisation to bring a new perspective to your products and services, to see them as a potential customer would for the very first time.
Then go and have Piri-Piri chicken with them in a well-known restaurant chain.