As part of using (and hopefully enjoying) the English language, it’s a matter of course that at times some words get slightly misused, for no other reason than because they sound good in the moment.
Then, because they sound good in that place, people catch on and the word in its slightly misused context gets increasingly banded about.
After that, even though the use of the adjective isn’t quite right, the word becomes cliché. Once it fits into that category, you probably don’t want it associated with your brand.
Here’s an example: Luxury.
It’s a great illustration because a decade or so ago, it was a word that marketeers couldn’t get enough of. It seemed as though ‘luxury’ could be applied to virtually anything.
From a designer handbag to a synthetic mix carpet, it was the word of the moment. Look around and it’s still there!
A quick search on the pound shop website will reveal that a 3-pack of ‘luxury’ boys’ sports socks can be purchased for a single pound. It’s amazing value and I don’t for one second suggest that the socks are not superb quality for the price, but is it fair to say that they actually constitute luxury?
The dictionary definition describes luxury as a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving considerable expense. Boys’ socks from the pound shop, this is not.
Please don’t read this as a rant. It isn’t.
As I said at the start, using the English language can be as much about creativity and expression as contextual precision. It’s just about choosing the best word options when building a brand, from a professional perspective.
Pro! Short for professional.
Which rather conveniently brings me to the next word example. Pro! Short for professional. Dictionary definition: relating to or belonging to a profession.
Forgive me if I don’t have the dates quite right here, but all being well you’ll get the gist: Apple launched its 15” MacBook Pro in approximately 2006. A computer designed… for designers, it was a model that could work for the professional and amateur alike. New versions of the product followed over subsequent years…
Ever since that initial pro release, it could be said that linking the word to products has become routine. Phones are for professionals; kids’ trainers are for professionals and headphones are for professionals. Do you have to professionally listen to information or music through a set of headphones to justify having this type of kit? Should that be your job? Does it mean you aspire to be a professional listener? Does that job exist?
Of course, I’m being a bit pedantic. I’m sure people doing professional jobs use high end headphones to enhance their capabilities within the role. However, it’s still a good move not to get too disposable about the words you choose to associate with your brand.
Is your product ‘official’, ‘elite’, ‘revolutionary’? Is your brand number one? Can it be proven and who has given it that status?
All I’m saying is don’t get caught out. Know that with so much shared between consumers online regarding the benefits of the products now available to us, those with cash to spend have information at their fingertips to do their research, check out other options and not just buy something because they’re swayed by the tag line.
Isn’t that right Dave Gorman?
Really struggling with their interpretation of the word "luxury" here: pic.twitter.com/mFftWBnprX— Dave Gorman (@DaveGorman)