There are some words I always come across with when I start a new branding project. These words that are not just trite, overused, but worst of all, empty. Here they are along with their definitions, which sometimes seem to be overlooked by many of those who use them. Overused words:
- INNOVATIVE – adjective, tending to innovate or characterized by innovation. in-no-vate [in-uh-veyt] verb, “to introduce something new; make changes in anything established”. In other words, if you didn’t make it first, don’t use it.
- QUALITY – qual-i-ty [kwol-i-tee] adjective “marked by a concentrated expenditure of involvement, concern, or commitment.” Unless your product or service undeniably surpasses the functionality, effectiveness, and/or lifespan of your competitors, do not use it.
- COMMITTED – com-mit [kuh-mit] Show IPA verb, “to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge.” Is everything you do devoted to ONE goal? Not quite? Then don’t use it.
- EXPERIENCED – expe-ri-enced [ik-speer-ee-uhnst] adjective, “wise or skillful in a particular field through experience” ex-pe-ri-ence [ik-speer-ee-uhns] noun “knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone” If you are a startup, start by not using this word.
- INTEGRITY – in-teg-ri-ty [in-teg-ri-tee] noun, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” This is one to do the walking and not the talking. DO NOT USE IT.
- EASY (EASE) – easy [ee-zee] adjective, “freedom from difficulty, great effort, labor, pain, or physical annoyance.” Does anybody nowadays wants to do things the hard way? So, what else is new?
- FLEXIBLE – flex-i-ble [flek-suh-buhl] adjective, “susceptible of modification or adaptation; adaptable: a flexible schedule.” “willing or disposed to yield; pliable: a flexible personality”. Can you do what I want when I want it? If not, you’re probably not that flexible.
- RESPONSIVE – re-spon-sive [ri-spon-siv] “responding especially readily and sympathetically to appeals, efforts, influences. etc.: a responsive government.” Doesn’t say much, does it?
- EXCELLENCE – ex-cel-lence [ek-suh-luhns] “the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.” This one is simply subjective; use it only if you and your customers have set the bar standards.
- DRIVEN BY RESULTS – how?
If you are going to use one or more of these overused words when describing your brand, make sure you can specify the proof that you can walk the talk. If you do, your words will come out swiftly and strongly, if you don’t, they will just be another example of a wannabe.
One example is TACO BELL’s claiming innovation after investing 3 years in developing a Doritos Flavored taco. What others can you think of?
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