Assure, ensure and insure are some of my favorite tricky words. When I see them in marketing materials, they remind me of the hilarious Abbott & Costello “Who’s on First” routine.
- “To assure against natural disaster…” – Who?
- “We ensure you that we know what we’re doing with…” – What?
- “We insure exceptional quality in all our products and…” – I don’t know?
You don’t insure your boss you’ve given her accurate information. Granted, there are days when some of us think (or dream) we’d benefit from our boss’s death; unfortunately, you can’t purchase an insurance policy to guard against her untimely demise.
The word is assure – “I assure you, boss woman, this information is accurate.”
- Assure means to provide some level of confidence.
- Ensure means to make certain.
- Insure means to protect against loss.
You insure your car and house, ensure the bills are paid on time, and assure your clients your creative ideas will cut through communication clutter and be effective.
When I see advertising, marketing or public relations that wants to insure me I’ll get the best service, assure the best raw materials go into a company’s products or ensure clients against unforeseen circumstances, I smack palm to forehead, feeling sorry for the poor copywriter who doesn’t understand the difference between the words.
Forget who’s on first in your online and offline marketing materials and your organization will look just as laughable as the great comedic duo.
* Click the image above to watch “Who’s on First” in its entirety on YouTube.