Oops, I did it again!

Without punctuation, this sentence sounds as sexist as it gets. Enough to trigger a feminist to start smashing at the patriarchy.

But… What if we include some punctuation in there?

“A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Low and behold, all the independent women agree now in unison.

Context gives shape to meaning – in print, in design, in arts and in words. Without context, we immediately jump back into our own heads, to formulate pure assumptions.

We communicate a lot within a day, through multiple channels and on a myriad of platforms.

A day doesn’t go by if you aren’t communicating. Be it a coffee room conversation, an email to your colleagues or a Facebook comment – we are all constantly ‘sending messages’. It flows easily to and fro from person to person.

But sometimes, they just don’t hit the mark. And that is why we need to define our desired context.

Let’s say…

If I ask you what’s 1 + 1, you will probably deem it as a math question and tell me the answer is 2.

What if I rephrase it and ask you what do you get if you add one drop of water to another drop of water? You’ll get one larger drop of water.

How about adding one primary color to another primary color. You’d get a secondary color.

And lastly, one crate of beer and one endless night out? It’s anyone guess!Oops, I did it again!

Without punctuation, this sentence sounds as sexist as it gets. Enough to trigger a feminist to start smashing at the patriarchy.

But… What if we include some punctuation in there?

“A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Low and behold, all the independent women agree now in unison.

So you see… adding one to one doesn’t always result in two. Give the context a little twist and a little turn, everything changes.

Here’s another example of delivering it with context in our daily lives, sarcasm – saying one thing but meaning the opposite. When sarcasm is being delivered in writing without the context that the human voice provides, the meaning might be lost.

You see it all the time on Facebook or YouTube. Someone leaves a comment that takes a strong pro or con stand on the trending video. Another user addresses the points of the original comment. The first person comes back saying ‘Some people just don’t understand sarcasm though’.

From this we can tell that it is the tonality of the human voice that provides the context which sarcasm requires. The first person who have made the comment may have heard it internally when he was typing the message. But the person who is reading doesn’t hear the same voice while reading his words.

Meaning can be completely altered by delivering it in a different context.

So, the next time you send any form of marketing message. Think about the tools you use which creates your desired context – words, punctuation, languages, images, tonality and even symbols! And also the tools which you can use to bolster the context you want to put across to your consumers. Little things go a long way in the realm of marketing.

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