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Jargon be gone!

Posted on: May 7th, 2007 by: Tom Groff

Today begins my battle against banal business-speak.

Hi, I’m Tom. I’m the new kid on the blog. It’s good to join the discussion as your copy-focused contributor. I’m looking forward to exploring what makes effective writing.

You’re meeting me while I’m in an unusually positive frame of mind, partly because it’s good to be a copywriter in general right now. Nevertheless, I’ll start things off with a bit of constructive criticism, in the form of listing a few business marketing clichés I never want to see or hear again. What’s wrong with these hackneyed bits? Their overuse bores readers. They add no meaning, only extra words. And they annoy me. So please, don’t test your audiences’ patience. Avoid:

  • Moving forward: That’s what I’m doing past any sentence with this phrase.

  • At the end of the day: The sun goes down. Get a new metaphor.

  • Think outside the box: You knew this had lost its impact when the Taco Bell folks tweaked it for their tagline.

  • Built from the ground up: Please tell me in which other order you would build it.

With all the information competing for attention these days, it’s hard enough to differentiate a company, even without getting bogged down in these same-old phrases. That’s why I’m keeping a running list of clichés to stay away from. This list to be continued …

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One Response

  1. Karab Amabo says:

    I’m on the same page with Tom about these cliches. With my employees, I’ve decided that, moving forward, anyone who uses any one of these expressions will have to explain to the team what, exactly they meant and why that was the best way to say it. It might result in a some awkward rewrites, but, at the end of the day, we’ll all be better communicators for it. Sometimes, ironically, it takes more limitations and and restrictions like these to get people to think outside the box and come up with more original material, instead of the same hackneyed phrases. And those types of phrases have become so ubiquitous that to do away with them entirely is quite a challenge, almost like building a new style of communication from the ground up. I believe any company that takes ownership of their branding to the point of developing a unique voice that’s free of cliches is bound to be a standout in the marketplace.

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