By Charles Roques
Professional proofreaders, especially for advertising firms, consult style manuals known as brand bibles for their client companies so they can maintain consistency in their corporate visual imagery. It is not just about typos, misspelled words or grammatical mistakes. Color, font style and size, image spacing, are issues as well as missed typos, or worse, misspelling.
A particular shade of a color can be as important as a corporate name, like the shade of brown, green or blue that we may associate with certain companies. These all contribute to the overall look of the published ad, whether online or on a billboard. Looking closely helps see the details but so does stepping back to makes sure they contribute to the final image. In the end, no matter how small, they all contribute to making a recognizable brand image. Missing any one of them, no matter how minute, could be job threatening if the client is very important.
So in a sense, a proofreader’s work involves seeing not only the details, but the overall picture at the same time.
Investors may not have the same skill as proofreaders, but part of their job is also looking for the obvious. Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.” Although we may chuckle at the endearing redundancy of this simple truth, the obvious can be overlooked when laboring to decipher the progress of a cannabis-related company. The following can contribute to your perspective on a company.
Step back and consider the overall content of the information released by a company. It may be very technical language, but that shouldn’t be a reason to excuse sloppy presentation. Last year, one questionable company issued a press release with its own name misspelled four times, even though the information was included in a major online publication. In an online world where a single capital or lowercase letter can change the name of a company or website, these types of errors should be a red flag.
We tend to use the oxymoronic term “old news” when we hear already known information, but the term might be useful when perusing press releases. Is there something old about this new information? Sometimes six new press releases could be six slightly altered copies of the same one. Try to trust your innate ability to remember something once. Just glancing at the press release should remind you if you have already seen this information.
You don’t have to be a linguist to recognize the future or conditional tense of verbs, but you might casually overlook their importance. Watch the grammar and be wary of the future tense. History reports use the past tense, current developments the present. Too much use of the future or conditional tense should be a reason for caution. Most investors, even novices, know that past performance cannot guarantee rewards and growth, but neither can forward-looking statements so don’t be dazzled by the future tense. Overenthusiastic and repeated press releases over time only serve to remind the observant reader of unfulfilled promises. Casual observers of the press releases may miss the repeated information, but a regular compiler of the company history will not.
Does a company use computer graphics instead of real photos? It is impressive how exact and realistic computer programs can reproduce architecture, interiors, landscapes but that can also be very deceptive. Investors should never forget that they could be artificially created images that are potentially and sometimes completely fictional. Even real photos can be manipulated but a drawing can be completely fabricated and often is. If a company boasts of a new machine in production, or is in a new building, but only shows a drawing of it, then chances are strong it is only a drawing.
Beware of stock photos. The rows of cannabis are radiant and beautiful in the grow facility on the website, but they may look familiar. Why do they only show close-ups? Companies may lease stock photos of almost anything, including glowing rows of cannabis; if one seems familiar, compare images. Most companies are proud of their grow facilities and would prefer you see the real thing.
Small details can be very revealing about how professional a company can be or appear to be. Some say God is in the details, others say the devil, but no matter how you remember it, it certainly pays to find out which one. Chances are the elusive language or sloppy errors could reflect elusive or sloppy behavior in other areas of a company.