My writing/journalism hat and marketing hat are sometimes at odds with each other and this is one of those times. In writing, especially academic, I was taught that superlatives and hyperbole should be kept to a minimum unless they are backed up by a credible source. In marketing, hyperbole is used more often while superlatives without sources run the risk of false advertising.

A quick refresh-

Hyperbole: Exaggeration that is unrealistic. “That was so boring, I almost died.”

Superlative: The highest degree of something. “The best coffee in New York.”

For example, “This is the best roaster in the world.” There’s a difference between a brand claiming this and a customer opining this. As a brand, you’ll need to back it up with an actual award given to you. As a customer, totally okay!

I’m bringing this up because I’ve recently observed some marketing to the tune of “This is the best way to roast coffee” and “It’s impossible to make great coffee at home.” According to whom? Who determines what’s best or great or what’s possible? Yes, I understand that you do need to establish some authority as a brand but putting in statements that imply that only you know best is alienating to customers. There’s an exception to this that I’ll discuss later on.

When you’re planning a product or service, you usually establish what problem you solve or the big need you fulfill for a customer. And, how you separate yourself from others. Some people have issues with back pain while sitting at a desk? Create an ergonomic chair. How is it different from others? It’s created with recycled material so it’s sustainable. You can say that you’re a sustainable ergonomic chair manufacturer without saying that you’re the only one solving climate change because that just isn’t true (other chairs exist).

The few exceptions I can think of for including hyperbole or superlatives is if it’s either clearly stated as an opinion of the brand (“We think this is the best way to make coffee”) or if it’s a sarcastic/tongue-in-cheek kind of phrasing (“When you drink this coffee, you’ll be transported to a tropical beach, attended by adorable seal baristas, and guaranteed clear skies for every sunset”). The second is so outlandish that no one would think it’s real and if used sporadically, could catch the attention of a customer.

As consumers, we get advertisements shown to us so often that making sweeping claims or proclaiming yourself to be the only available solution reeks of hype and not authenticity. Be authentic and weird.