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Brad VanAuken Brand Marketing

Branding Clichés And Hollow Claims

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Brand Strategy Brand Cliche'

It seems that every good idea, every admirable quality, at some point gets overused and eventually becomes a cliché. Some qualities become so popular that every organization aspires to possess them or at least claim that they possess them. I run into this all of the time in crafting brand positioning statements and elevator speeches. These are some of the words and phrases that I believe have become clichéd:

Leader

Quality

Innovation/Innovative

Reliable

Responsive

Customer focused

Service

Trust/Trustworthy

Authentic

Green

Organic

Luxury

Estates

Resort

It’s not that the concepts that the words stand for are undesirable. It’s just that so many brands are claiming these, even within the same product/service categories, that they have become hollow and meaningless. So, here is what I recommend to brand marketers, brand managers and brand owners regarding these words and phrases.

By all means, embrace them as a way of conducting your business and perhaps even as a point of difference. In support of this, even include them in your internal brand strategy documents. But, don’t integrate them into your taglines, elevator speeches or marketing campaign themelines. These are admirable qualities to possess so by all means strive to possess them, but don’t scream to the world that you possess them. Let your actions scream that for you. Think of it this way – those that are always claiming that they are trustworthy may be trying to overcome self-doubts about how trustworthy they really are. Or those who are claiming to be green may be doing so just to ride the wave of a popular trend. Don’t claim these things, just be them.

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3 Comments

Sohan Shenoy on April 07th, 2012 said

True Brad. Another one is ‘Values’.

Andy Duchow on April 07th, 2012 said

This article makes an excellent point. The whole purpose of the elevator speech (and brand positioning statement as well) is to differentiate an organization from the competition. Using buzzwords and jargon accomplishes the opposite: Instead of the statement standing out from the crowd, it blends in and gets overlooked.

Do you have some suggestions for alternatives to the above list that might have similar meanings but not be as over-used?

JulianHibbert on May 17th, 2012 said

Thanks for the great piece.

I find this especially strong in the mobile marketing industry.

Do you feel Agencies and Companies need to discover their true core purpose first to establish what they excel at and communicate this in ‘real and authentic’ language?

Regards,
Julian

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