When business owners and marketers use vapid words (formal tongues, obvious statements and clichéd phrases) to describe and define their brand, they’re killing it (not the competition, their brand). So here’s your task: the next time you write a branding statement or some website copy, see if you can avoid using these seven types of vapid words which make me wince.
1 Stating the obvious: minimum service standard statements
Yesterday I almost coughed up my Coco Pops as one company website claimed it used ”high quality materials” and it had a “friendly, dedicated, passionate team” with “professional standards.”
I wouldn’t expect any company to use low quality materials (or ingredients) and I’d like to think that every business employs an affable group of people who are fervent and devoted to their jobs. (Oh, and seeing as I’m nitpicking, ‘professional’ means you belong to a profession and you get paid for your work – it’s not an adjective; nor a purposeful brand value for that matter).
At lunchtime I almost choked on my chicken chow mein after reading another site which proudly proclaimed: “We only use experienced builders….” (uh, really?) adding: “…our work is fully insured” (well, that’s a relief). This company also gave me the reassurance that their work would be: “…of the highest quality and standard,” and that they believed in giving me: ”…only the very best.”
Well, in that case, I’m sold, I’ll get my debit card.
2 Formal language: what era are you from?
Some companies resort to almost ceremonial communication when they write, like this one, which said: “We pride ourselves in continually updating and improving all aspects of our service.” Really? Was this taken from your business plan…from 1923? Either way, for the love of Krishna, don’t put it on your website.
This blog is starting to sound like a joke, but, sadly, it’s not. All of this chaff wastes word count (which could be used to encourage loyalty and, God forbid, create a sale or two). Plus, it wastes the readers’ time, and you don’t want to do that.
3 Repetition: oh no, not again
Repeating the same word in the sentence, like this, is plain lazy: “We are a video production company, working with…to capture compelling video content.” Well, that’s really descriptive. This, I assume is for SEO purposes. But, come on, where’s the creativity? Where’s your thesaurus? And, by the way, Google cottoned on to keyword stuffing years ago, haven’t you heard?
4 Unsubstantiated claims
Good journos have to qualify every claim in print, so why shouldn’t businesses do the same? Plus, saying: “We are the leading providers of…” is overworked sales speak which turns readers (and potential customers) off. Why not corroborate it? Give a little more detail, it doesn’t take much effort.
5 Pleading (in formal language)
I know being direct or overfamiliar can appear presumptuous or rude, but, at the other end of the politeness scale, is this how you would speak to a customer face-to-face: “Please contact us for a quote,” or “Please feel free to browse our website.” Is business so bad that you have to resort to begging? There is a simple way to avoid this without appearing arrogant or pushy. Drop us a line and we’ll clue you in.
6 Overused words and phrases
Why do so many ‘innovative’ companies offer a ‘bespoke’ service from ‘specialists’ with a ‘passion’ for….blar-de-blar-de-blar? These hackneyed words have lost their meaning. Synonyms are right there on your computer, tablet or phone. It doesn’t take much effort to find a new way of saying the same thing.
7 Vapid marketing blather
Almost all of these errors can be found among the paragraphs of press releases, advertorials, newsletters, social media posts and email campaigns which fly between businesses, customers and marketing channels throughout the land.
So, here’s that task: the next time you’re writing some promotional copy for your business, see if you can avoid using these seven types of vapid words. If you do, it may just make you stand out enough to make your prospects stick around, and your customers feel glad they met you.