Marketing buzzwords are absolutely everywhere. In the battleground of online marketing, words are smashed together to create hybrids, terms are blown out of reasonable context, and words that exist already are given a new meaning entirely. In 2017 no facet of language is safe from becoming a Frankenstein tool in the belt of a marketer— even buzzword is a buzzword.
Not all marketing buzzwords are bad. Languages have always evolved over time, and slang even more quickly. Often new words and terms arise to more accurately, or simply, describe something. Why say, the combined power of a group of things when they are working together is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately, when you can say synergy? A recent article published in the Walrus, by poet and author Jacob McArthur Mooney, discusses the defence for the usefulness of corporate jargon. Mooney believes, “Business is contingent on people with different experiences finding ways to converse.”
So what do we have against these particular marketing buzzwords? Well first and foremost, they’re overused; secondly, some of them are misleading; and lastly, we can do better. If our job as marketers is to be creative and effective, why does do we keep recycling the same terms over and over?
We are going to list our least favourite here in descending order from the ones we like the most to the least, what they mean, and why they’re used.
What it means: Trending refers to anything that is of popular interest and widely searched for a period of time. Things that are trending typically are only relevant for a brief of time and have a limited shelf life.
It’s use in marketing: In an age of instant accessibility to information, trending topics can promote a huge rush of exposure to a particular subject. Remember when Pokémon Go launched? Suddenly every café was advertising Pokémon themed drinks because they knew that the players were walking around in their area. Capitalizing on trending topics can be beneficial in certain scenarios.
What it means: To curate something means to organize, collect and arrange something with impeccable taste. The term implies sophistication.
It’s use in marketing: Once reserved for museums and art galleries, suddenly everything is curated. Shops have a curated selection of merchandise, fashion bloggers have curated wardrobes, and even bars have a curated cocktail menu. Curation implies that the purchaser is getting something of particular value or taste. If you want to read more on the history of the word, check out this article.
What it means: Storytelling today refers to social media content, usually put out by influencers.
It’s use in marketing: Storytelling evokes the image of a warm campfire circle; stories are shared in an interactive experience where the listeners can converse with the storyteller. Traditional marketing tactics are no longer as impactful and social media is becoming a driving force in modern marketing. Lots of businesses want to utilize this form of marketing and storytelling sounds nicer than social media marketing.
What it means: A disruptor is a person or idea that challenges a usual method of doing something, or the status quo.
It’s use in marketing: Doing things differently has always been an attractive concept for marketers; it appeals to a younger demographic who don’t feel obliged to conform to the norms their parents did. From the 60’s to today, marketers have been looking for a way to tell young people that they can help stick it to conformity, today we just have a word for it.
What it means: An influencer is someone on social media who has a lot of followers, viewers, and audience engagement.
It’s use in marketing: Celebrities have been used to market products for years. From Lauren Bacall being used as a spokesperson for Chesterfield cigarettes, to Kim Kardashian selling Sketchers sneakers, celebrity endorsements sell. Influencers are like more accessible celebrities with intensive fan followings, which gives them a large sway.
What it means: A millennial is a loaded term used to describe the generation born between 1982-2004.
It’s use in marketing: Millennials are said to have distinctive behaviours and beliefs that are very different from previous generations. Marketers are trying to understand their purchasing habits and the Internet is constantly trying to classify and debate their common traits. The word is typically used to either identify with that particular generation, or to poke fun at their perceived habits.
What it means: Branding is the process of distinguishing a company’s distinctive voice, look, logo, values and goals. Branding as a marketing buzzword usually just means one of those things.
It’s use in marketing: Branding has become a marketing buzzword for logo creation and often it is used to showcase the aesthetics of a companies rebrand, or visual design.
While these words will be around for the foreseeable future, there is no doubt more marketing buzzwords will continue to spring up. To avoid falling into the pitfall of these words, ask yourself these three simple questions:
- Does this word actually mean what I think it does?
- Does this work/term describe what I’m trying to say more succinctly?
- What benefit is there to using this word over another?
Want to learn about what building and managing a brand actually means? Download our brand survival guide.