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What's in a word: how times change

What's in a word: how times change

The almighty 'word' plays a powerful role in marketing -- always has, always will. 

What's in a Word?

Traditionally our marketing, advertising and even our sales proposals are carefully worded to educate, intrigue, create a want, solve a problem and ultimately elicit an action -- in most cases to buy a product or service.

It's intriguing (my word for today I think) looking back over the years at how language changes whether it is in the advertising or marketing world or in day-to-day life. Just think back to things your parents said when you are a child -- are these still used today?

Golly? Of course with this one the first thing that pops to mind is Gomer Pile -- well go ahleee!  (Showing my age here - although I did watch in reruns...)

How about 'neato'? Or - going back to my pre-teen years when Supertramp's 'Breakfast in America' first came out --- 'Bloody well right'! Here's are more (in no particular order)  'beats me', 'spaz', 'far out and funky' 'talk to the hand' 'time-out', 'dream on', 'gag me with a spoon', 'like', 'as if', 'you go girl', 'cool beans'.

Where do these sayings come from? Well many from TV shows or lyrics in our favourite tunes of the time. It's amazing how influential what we see and hear is in our day-to-day lives.

Of course all of this is brought on by Lake Superior State University's 44th Annual List of Banished Words for 2019. I can say, I'm in agreement with many.

Here's the list of 2019 banished words:

  • Wheelhouse
  • In the books
  • Wrap my head around
  • Platform
  • Collusion
  • Otus, potus, flotus, cotus
  • Ghosting
  • Yeet
  • Litigate
  • Grapple
  • Eschew
  • Crusty
  • Optics
  • Legally drunk
  • Thought leader
  • Importantly
  • Accoutrements
  • Most important election of our time (so how is this a word?)


My thoughts on a few of these:

Platform - when it looking at it from a marketing point of view platform can be attributed to social media, web design cms system, crms, anything that in reality is a tool - a far cry from the original meaning of the word:

  1. a raised level surface on which people or things can stand.
  2. the declared policy of a political party or group  

Initially facebook, twitter, linkedin were called platforms, now they are channels -- what's next - Causeway? To me that makes more sense than channel. 

Collusion - after the last 2 years of listening to Trump, and or the news about Trump - collusion and 'fake news' are words I would be okay with never hearing again.

Optics - overused and generally doesn't make sense when used 

Eschew - sounds like a sneeze

Accoutrements -- one of those words people use to sound like they have a great command of the English language.

It is interesting to think about how we write and what words we choose to use; how saying the same thing changes over time.  I remember when I first started in the marketing industry, I had two influential people guiding me along (of which I still work with one today some 30+ years later - role reversal), believe it or not they both loved the word facilitate.  I think I could go back to the brochures designed for clients in that era and find the word facilitate in every brochure we did. I to this day find myself still using this word and not always in the right context -- it is just one of those words that seems to fit so many sentences when describing a product, service, business, person - a hard habit to break.  

So, as you sit in your wheelhouse, while you wrap your head around, and grapple with what's in the books for your marketing platform and accoutrements throughout 2019, remember to yeet the crusty, thought-leader, while ghosting anyone using the word 'collusion'; consider how to litigate the optics of being legally drunk and more importantly, eschew the words otus, potus, flotus and cotus while pondering the most important election of our time. 

Happy New Year!


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