More words that should be retired … or sent to rehab
A few years ago, I decried marketing’s overuse of a few words. Here’s a new list of words I’d like to see retired, or, in some cases, sent off to rehab. They’ve lost their voice, never had it, or have been used and abused to the point of uselessness, especially in marketing.
Back then, the most overused — and misused — was Solution. Here’s what I said:
This is the most overused word in the business world. Solution used to mean a service or item that answers challenges or fixes perplexing problems. But soon, Solution became the coolest marketing word ever. Now, anything sold is a Solution. This word has been sold out.
Back to the present: I’m pleased to report an easing in the overuse of Solution. You still see it and hear it, but like any crappy cliché, its devotees are listening to new marching orders. Same thing with another worded I cited, Interactive; it’s going inactive.
But chatter is cheap, and other words are being plenty cheapened. Before I get to the new list, though, I’d like to celebrate the end of the Really? craze. It’s been a couple years, but remember when Really? was all the rage? I got really sick of it really fast. No question about it. Thank goodness it’s mostly gone.
Five paragraphs in, let’s begin. Here’s a new list of words I’d like to see retired, or, in some cases, sent off to rehab. They’ve lost their voice, never had it, or have been used and abused to the point of uselessness, especially in marketing.
Misuse is killing Brand’s brand. It used to be an industry word that wasn’t uttered gratuitously. It pertained to an organization’s identity/reputation. Its maintenance demanded building blocks, and the builders were marketers, advertisers, and other creative folks. Then, some Gurus (more on them later) started yakking about it, making it a hip word. Then, Guru followers started touting their own personalities as their Brands. Now, everyone has a Brand. Athletes. Reality stars. Social media hounds. Even pets. Seems that everyone except a horse wants a Brand.
This word seems to be everyone’s darling. It means you have nothing to hide, right? It means you’re honest, right? It means you’re showing all your cards, right? Since Gurus advise everyone to be it, and everyone claims to be it, everything has become Transparent. I don’t see the advantage of using it.
As more and more online/social media communities emerge, experts (real and self-proclaimed) reign over multiplying forums. Many have credentials, accomplishments, viewable works, and great advice. Many others have a lot to say, but not so much of the other stuff. The word Guru is commonly used to describe members of both groups, and that’s the problem. So, how about we call people with the real goods the Experts, and the hyper-posters can have Guru all to themselves?
These words are cousins from a conscientious family. Back when companies were cranking out paper copies, ditching cartridges, and even spewing smoke, they were purposeful and powerful words. But now you see Green and Sustainable everywhere; the marketing landscape is littered with them. You aren’t getting a medal anymore for being Green and Sustainable. You should be Green and Sustainable, but bragging about them has lost its luster.
And finally, the most overused word in today’s technology marketing. As we divorced Interactive, we fell for Engage in a big way. Engagement used to be special; now, it’s everywhere. Now, businesses can “Engage target audiences.” Isn’t that polygamy? Professors can “Engage their students.” Won’t they be fired? Designers and developers can easily produce “Engaging online content.” If you love Engaging so much, why don’t you marry it?