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What’s Words Do You Choose?

August 28, 2011
Mary Jane Copps

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I know the summer’s come to an end because Lindsay’s gone back to Timmins for a bit of a holiday and when she returns, her classes will start up at Dalhousie. Before her student schedule makes her less available, she’s created a great blog about language and corporate identity. Read on!

Mary Jane often says about her approach to cold calling: “How can they make the best possible business decisions if they have not, at the very least, reviewed my information?” As a consumer, my mantra seems to be something like: “How can I make the best possible decisions about where to spend my time and money if I have no idea what a company stands for?”

Over the last couple of days while doing research for The Phone Lady, I came across each of these statements numreous times:

    “join our dynamic team!”
    “our dynamic guest demographic…”
    “dynamic brand + marketplace intelligence”

Okay…so what?

“Dynamic” is used so often now that I don’t even know what it means anymore. And if I’m not processing what it really means, it’s ineffective. It feels like enticement rather than information. It tells me little about what the company stands for, as an employer or in relation to its customers. All it really tells me is that “dynamic” is apparently quite the trendy buzzword.

So what is the definition of trendy? My handy Oxford English Dictionary tells me:

“1) (of a process) constantly changing or active; 2) full of energy and new ideas”.

Interesting. And kind of symbolic. It got me thinking: how can a company stand out if it uses the same descriptive adjectives and rhetoric as its competition? It’s ironic that companies who want to distinguish themselves from the pack are all using the same trite comments, causing everyone to blend together!

It’s easy to assume that a possible consequence of this en-mass approach to finding customers/employees could be an en-mass approach to customer service and result in a total lack of personal attention. Bottom line? I’m not interested, because I can’t tell why you’re better than your competitor. And at the end of the day, that’s what counts, right?

As a consumer, I’m not looking for an end-all of mission statements. But I do want to know what makes you uniquely suited to my needs. Like an effective sales call, I want to be able to visualize your company. You should be painting a picture in my mind of who you are, what you’re about, and whether we’d work well together.

Of course, this is about more than the word “dynamic”. It’s about what its overuse symbolizes. It was definitely an “Aha!” moment that helped me to understand just how powerful language is in business, and that if your message is not clear, potential customers easily walk away.

And one last thought:

The artist brings something into the world that didn’t exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. -John Updike, writer (1932-2009)

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