Apple Does Not Use Exclamation Marks on Its Website. Have You Ever Wondered Why?

You certainly understand what is important.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

Let’s talk about reality distortion.

Reality distortion is quite a popular topic these days, with our reality being bent into all sorts of shapes by the likes of Apple Vision Pro.

Also: The Apple products you shouldn’t buy this month

But reality distortions have a much longer history, especially when it comes to technology and the way it is marketed.

In 1981, it was Bud Tribble, Apple’s then software vice president, who used the phrase to describe Steve Jobs’ charisma.

Since then, so many rival tech types have used the phrase – to express their constant frustration with Apple’s ability to convince regular people that its products are somehow special.


“But they don’t have the features that others have,” they complained. Ah, but they had the marketing – which I suspect was in the design of the products rather than a single advertisement.

Nevertheless, most advertising agencies in the world believe that Apple’s marketing communications represent the height of genius.

Then please let me point out one little thing about this supposed genius: it doesn’t use exclamation points.

Explain the calling out

I sense that you think I’m sneaky, pedantic, or extremely picky, but this has been bothering me for a very long time.

Why do some tech marketers use exclamation points on their websites? What impact do you think these exclamation marks will have on customers? And what does an exclamation mark actually mean?

I confess that I grew up in a culture – the one on the other side of the Atlantic – that preferred speaking without moving one’s lips to making any form of exclamation.

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When I moved to America, I noticed that people here were a little more excited. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the less better.

But as I was looking at Apple’s homepage, I saw the company touting its MacBook Pro with the words: “Stunning. Sensational.” Words that certainly suggest a high level of tension.

However, an exclamation mark is not necessary because you probably already understand what is important. At least that’s what Apple assumes you do. Somehow an exclamation mark isn’t necessary. It announces that you are trying too hard.

However, some tech companies still insist that their products deserve an exclamatory explanation. It’s a really interesting phenomenon.

The great startup exclamation experiment

As an experiment, I discovered a list of America’s top 100 startups to keep an eye on and carefully went through their websites to see if they used exclamation points.

The majority shied away from emphasizing their excitement.

I have no interest in pointing fingers, but here is one of the top 100 startups, Mobilyze, exclaiming, “Let’s find a profitable electric vehicle charging station now!” This is followed by, “Ready to find profitable sites ? Write us!”

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Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

Does the presence of these exclamation points help? Or maybe it might even put you off a bit? Does this venture feel too eager and too excited?

This was particularly confusing because the website’s homepage read: “Find profitable electric vehicle charging sites in minutes.” That seems like a more exciting idea than, for example, “Write us a message!”

–> Screenshot-2024-02-14-at-10-01-09am.png


Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

This list of the top 100 startups includes all kinds of companies in all kinds of markets.

Diaper company HelloBello, for example, offers: “Rock the Diaper Change Game!” and the subtitle: “Subscribe for exclusive access to super cute diaper designs!”

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Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

In fact, the company is almost impossible to control when it comes to exclamation points. Even the banal “Find us at a store near you!” gets one.

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The longer this experiment went on, the more curious I became. It was as if some brands decided to speak a slightly different language.

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Language learning company Babbel, for example, bellowed, “Start learning a new language today!”

Will yelling at me help? Will it excite me even more? What does “calm down” mean in Italian?

–> Screenshot-2024-02-14-at-9-30-33am.png


Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

Babbel, I’m at a loss.

I’ve found that some cosmetics startups love exclamation points and others just don’t.

I learned that agritech startups have high goals, but not always lofty voices. For example, this from the farm management startup XFarm: “Let’s change the way we farm together.” Moderately, wisely.

Until they want you to “Join Agriculture 4.0!” and “Digitize your farm in less than 10 minutes!”

–> Screenshot-2024-02-20-at-10-14-42am.png


Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET


The majority know it is serious

Please, I’m not trying to be negative. I’m really confused.

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However, I was reassured by how many companies followed the Apple path of moderate online communication. (No, I wouldn’t call Apple boot events measured, by the way.)

Children’s learning company Tiny Tap happily offered: “Replace staring at YouTube with educational games.”

–> Screenshot-2024-02-14-at-9-45-16am.png


Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

I’m sure management is excited about their product. I am sure the product offers exciting possibilities and results.

I am also sure that the absence of an exclamation mark makes the products appear more serious and important.

Sell, don’t shout

Maybe you don’t have such a profound reaction to things like that. You may feel that the exclamation mark is an everyday – if not always meaningful – element of contemporary communication.

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But I’m trying to be helpful here. If you are considering adding an exclamation mark to your website, please first consider how you think it will help. Or is it just to show how excited you are, without regard to how it might make the reader feel?

However, the top 100 startups have spoken. The majority don’t feel the need to scream. Not even when LeBron James promotes their wares, as well as the Tonal all-in-one exercise machine.

–> Screenshot-2024-02-14-at-9-36-12am.png

The power of reasoned language.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

Ultimately, people don’t really care about your product. It’s your job to intrigue them, intrigue them and make them feel something unusual.

Does an exclamation mark do that? Or do you just think howling gets attention?

Also: Could the Apple Vision Pro make you like flying economy class (or hate it a little less)?

Your product may indeed be stunning and head-turning, but let it speak for itself a little more.

It worked for Apple. (I’m not sure the opposite worked quite so well at Yahoo!)

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