About this column
‘Branded’ buzzwords. You’ve seen them, heard them, read them everywhere.
Especially on the websites of coaching brands, “personality” brands, and wellness or self improvement-focused brands.
As a brand voice specialist, I read a lot of copy from values-based microbusiness owners —
people trying to do good work, from the heart, and market it via an online platform. I write a lot of copy. And (now, under The Voice Bureau) I direct a lot of copy to be written. My work life (and my personal life) are saturated in language. It’s the mode that I move in and groove in.
Just as a good doctor prides herself on staying ‘up’ on modern medicine, and a good hairstylist takes continuing education to learn how to do tresses à la mode of the day, a good branding and copywriting specialist keeps her ear to the ground for language and stylistic trends. She knows which words are worn out, which words are gaining velocity, and (often) who used a phrase in the first place, who co-opted it from there, and how it thence snowballed into a linguistic phenomenon in our tiny subculture of the internet.
After polling our friends on Facebook, I was convinced to go ahead and run this post on the beloved-of-microbiz words whose star has risen — and imploded.
I admit: I have used some of these words in my own clients’ copy (mostly by request, I should add) and at different points, in my own copy, so for every finger I’m pointing out there, I assure you there are even more fingers (of my own) pointing back at me.
I mean this post not to be a diss, a razz, a rag, a harangue, a call-out, or a slam. That’s not my style. (Low Audacity value, anyone? Thesaurus Club, anyone?)
Rather, as someone who desires to lead by example in the values-based online microbusiness webiverse, I think it’s time to say what a lot of us are already thinking.
Here are 11 ‘buzzwords’ we should each personally consider retiring from our business brands in 2013.
1. Juicy. This word means . . . what, to you? Exciting? Stimulating? Rah-rah? Laden with unusual adjectives? If you know what you mean by ‘juicy,’ please use that word instead — especially if you’re instructing a creative professional to make a design or a page of copy ‘more juicy’. And if you don’t know what you mean by ‘juicy,’ then please use another word.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘juicy’ in your brand language if you have a high Enthusiasm value. But realize how played out it is.
2. Soulful. What, exactly, does ‘soulful’ really mean? Is it a bougie take on ‘woo-woo’? Does it mean committed to a spiritual practice? Does it mean having a high Intimacy or Transparency value?
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘soulful’ in your brand language if you have a high Intimacy value.
3. Woo-woo. Let’s stop apologizing for being rooted in the spiritual, if we’re rooted in the spiritual, by calling it ‘woo-woo.’ Why denigrate something you truly believe in?
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘woo-woo’ in your brand language if you have a high Intimacy or Depth value. And only if you’re talking about how your Wrong People might see your high value on spirituality.
4. Savvy. I have used and abused this word in my copywriting past. In fact, I probably have this word a few places on my own site right now. And I’m seeing ‘savvy’ everywhere these days. Everybody’s Right People are ‘savvy.’ Everybody’s methodology is ‘savvy.’ I’m committing to really asking myself now, every time I feel tempted to select this word over a more precise alternative: Is savvy the word I actually mean? And if I think I do mean savvy, then savvy about what? I encourage you to ask the same questions of yourself.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘savvy’ in your brand language if you have a high Excellence or Clarity value.
5. Telejam. The first person I ever heard use this catchy moniker was Danielle LaPorte, and since then, everybody and her sister is having one instead of a live call, a virtual class, or (God forbid) a teleseminar. I’m not against spicing the name up, but there are other options out there. (And not all Voice Values ‘jam’ and jam alike, you know. Some of us ‘chat,’ ‘riff,’ call people to the ‘playground,’ or invite people to a salon.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘telejam’ in your brand language if you’re Danielle LaPorte. Everybody else, get your own phraseologie.
6. Whatevs-preneur. God bless the ‘preneurs. Have you noticed how everybody is adding ‘preneur to everything these days? Now in addition to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, there are femmepreneurs, mompreneurs, digipreneurs, writerpreneurs. I won’t go on in case I offend someone dear to me. (I truly hope that isn’t the case.) But I’m thinking that the YOUR TOPIC AREA HERE-preneur wave has crested. Maybe not.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘-preneur in your brand language if you’ve been using it for a while and have an established brand conversation around it, or a tribe who strongly identifies with it. If you’re new to the scene and wondering what to call yourself or your prospective clients, please look elsewhere.
7. Epic. Very few things in life are truly epic. Saving people from fires. Running a marathon as an amputee. These things are epic. I’ll put myself out there and say that launching an e-book on the internet is NOT epic. Using this word freely to describe your latest weekend adventure feels a bit grandiose, no?
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘epic’ in your brand language if you have a high Power or Audacity value.
8. Make it pop. When I hear this line, I imagine scantily clad women cavorting in a rap video. (And I like rap.) How, exactly, do you make a sentence pop? Or make your money savvy pop? (See the suggestions for ‘juicy,’ above.)
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘make it pop’ in your brand language if . . . nah.
9. Hustle. Oh, the hustling. It’s not for all of us. Hustling implies a motivation, a momentum, and a mindset that is not for everybody. And I’m seeing people with Voice Values at the other end of the spectrum from the hustlerific using this word with abandon. It just doesn’t quite land.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘hustle’ in your brand language if you have a high Audacity value.
10. Authentic. Another word that makes us go hmm. Like ‘juicy,’ ‘soulful,’ ‘savvy,’ and ‘make it pop,’ above, ‘authentic’ doesn’t quite mean anything, does it? Does it simply mean not fake? Better to tell your readers what you’re committed to being authentic about. I purposely didn’t include ‘authenticity’ as one of the 16 Voice Values because all Voice Values have the capacity to be strongly authentic, each in their own way. If you hear one thing in this post, please hear this: no one style of communication holds the patent on authenticity. There’s lots of room for all of us in this conversation about life and business and what really matters.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘authentic’ in your brand language if you have a high Transparency value.
11. Badass. I admit to a fondness for this one, because it’s so far from anything I’d ever use to describe my own brand and the way I communicate. (You’ll recall my low Audacity value.) But the problem is, I’m seeing this everywhere. Who comes to my mind first when I hear the word? Justine Musk. Surely she’s not the first person to use this in her personal brand, but her use of it fits because it aligns with her Voice Values. See below if you’re wondering whether it could work for you, too.
Caveat: Consider keeping ‘badass’ in your brand language if you have a high Audacity value.
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In the comments, we’d love to hear:
What words or phrases do you wish would retire in 2013? Put ’em in the comments below.