Every word you use has a purpose. That’s true when you speak and it’s true when you write. Some words just serve as supports for the other words and others make an impression.
And then there are those words that set off alarms. These are the words you don’t want to use. Call them buzz words, $5 words, or clichés, but more often than not they’ve lost their meaning from overuse.Using buzz words not only fails to create a positive impression, but also may lead your audience — an important client, a lucrative prospect, or a vital employee — think you’re full of it.
This is particularly true than in advertising where the constraints of space and time force every word to carry more weight than in other contexts. According to BusinessWeek’s Steve McKey, the five words to avoid using in any ad are:
There are specific liabilities to using each of these words, but they all suffer from the same problem: they’re overused, meaningless, and empty.
Some industries have developed their own vacuous catch phrases; check out the VC Cliché of the Week. Then there are endless sports and war analogies and other clichés that have spread horizontally across multiple segmentations of the business world.
Next time you catch yourself “thinking out of the box,” “leveraging synergies,” or “empowering innovative deliverables” STOP! Step back, take a deep breath, and start over from the beginning with simple words that make sense and still have meaning.