“We Never Sell a Stale Cake”

Categories: Winnthinks

Think about that for a moment.


This, a coaching colleague tells me, is the actual advertising slogan used by her local bakery, deep in darkest Nottinghamshire. I have looked at their website and it all looks just delectable – so why does the slogan have such a high ‘Eeuw Factor’?


In fact, before we explore that some more, can any of you top it for the most unappealing, negative turn-off of a slogan you’ve ever come across? Hey, we could get a competition going here… I’ll confess to being a bit bamboozled by Simply Health’s choice of ‘We Can Be Bothered’. Yes, I see what they did there, but again, I really wouldn’t like to think that I was ‘bothering’ anyone by paying them a premium and then actually using the services I’ve paid for, would you? ‘Bothered’: a poor choice of word to introduce into the customer’s psyche there – and I bet Simply Health paid a tidy sum for their slogan. I’m imagining that Mr Bun the Baker of Impeccably Unstale Cakes at least got his for nothing, having brainstormed it into existence with his Never Unwashed Friends in his Never Violent and Rowdy Local over a Never Fart-Inducing Pint one Friday night. For his sake I certainly hope so.


Now, regular visitors to these Winnthinks will be well used to me rattling on about positive personal presentation. You will know that whether you’re looking for a job, for new clients or a new life partner you will be more appealing to all-comers if you present yourself as a warm, genuine, can-do kind of person. Some of that is about having good personal hygiene and a ready smile; the much used-and-abused Mehrabian Communication Model* tells us around 55% of the impact we make on other people is about what they see, particularly gestures, eye contact, etc. 38% of our ‘oomph’ is said to be around the way we use our voice – tone, volume, pitch, speed, etc. The same Model appears to be relatively dismissive of the importance of our word choices, saying that only 7% of the impact we have on other people when we meet them is about the words we actually say. So surely our word choices are the least of our worries, aren’t they?


Well, no. Not if they form 100% of the message – as they do in a slogan or any other written medium. On paper or on a screen words are completely and utterly at the mercy of the reader’s interpretation. They have no body language and no tone of voice to help deliver their intended meaning. And we certainly shouldn’t discount the importance of our word choices in other situations either; after all that’s 7% more personal impact we want to tap into, isn’t it?


So, what can we learn from our baker friend’s slogan? Well, look at what happens when you flip the same message round into its positively worded equivalent: “Our cakes are always fresh!” Now doesn’t that sound instantly more appealing? Isn’t ‘fresh’ the word choice you want associated with your cake?


When we’re telling other people about who we are and what we do, we don’t have to brag or lie or inflate the truth. What we can do for the best possible impact is to tell the truth using positive word choices. Lose the self-detracting mock modesty and flip “I’m just the Office Junior” into “I provide administrative support to a busy team of sales executives”. Instead of saying to a customer “Sorry to keep you waiting” flip it into “Thank you for being patient”. All of a sudden your language switches on like a light bulb.


* Figures based on extensive research by Professor Albert Mehrabian in the 1960’s. Mehrabian’s Communication Model is widely accepted throughout the world by experts in communication and linguistics. Although other research disputes these findings, and Mehrabian himself has modified it over the years, this remains the most widely accepted model of how people communicate messages to each other.



  1. Wise words again…

  2. Yet again Rebecca you cause me an ‘ah haa’ moment of ways to present information and put a positive spin on things…thank you 🙂

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