“Oops” Alone No Longer ...


Every interaction with the customer offers a brand-building opportunity.

This is particularly true for B2B companies that tend to pay less attention to the squishy things in life. Simply using conversational language that sounds like it comes from an actual human being — “Going from Point A to Point B to Point C gets you to the good stuff …” — would differentiate most B2B companies.

Which brings us to the 404 page. For those not familiar with the infamous 404, this is what greets visitors to your website when they click on a broken link or page that doesn’t exist. Again, here’s a chance to turn a negative into a positive by using the 404 as a springboard to the company’s humanity.

You would think dropping an “Oops” into the narrative would do the job. After all, B2B companies aren’t peppering their copy with this term.

Not so fast. It turns out some of the biggest names in B2B tech are playing the “Oops” card on their 404 pages.

Let’s start with the largest semiconductor company on the planet, Intel.

Do we really need an exclamation point?

And the copy editor forgot to red line the phrase “SOMETHING WENT WRONG” — also superfluous.

Next in line is Salesforce, arguably the most human of all of the B2B tech companies, thanks to Marc Benioff’s belief in philanthropy.


I suspect the visitor who landed in 404 hell immediately figured out this isn’t the right page.

How about HP, another big name in tech.

Uninspiring to say the least.

As our fourth example, we bring you IBM.

Now, we’re talking

IBM constructs a touch of levity around the “Oops.” Flipping the name upside down is genius. I can hear the company’s logo police chirping that the move bastardizes the branding guidelines. Glad someone had the smarts to overrule them.

While the Museum of Modern Art obviously doesn’t qualify as a B2B tech company, it delivers my favorite riff on “Oof.”

The artwork comes from Edward Ruscha who shared the why behind the piece: “The single word, its guttural monosyllabic pronunciation, that’s what I was passionate about.”


Yep, one single word can make a difference.

It just can’t be a word that everyone else is using.


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