Are you using any of the words and phrases in the 2011 list of banished words from Lake Superior State University in your branding and marketing materials? You might want to stop.
Every year since 1976, Lake Superior State University compiles a list of words and phrases that are so overused, misused, or useless that they should be banished from the English language entirely. In fact, the concept was copyrighted by the University in 1987. The list is compiled through nominations and interviews.
The 2011 list of banished words includes 14 words and phrases but the top honor — the number one word to be banished in 2011 — goes to “viral.”
Check out the complete list of 2011 banished words from Lake Superior State University:
- Wow factor
- A-ha moment
- Back story
- Man up
- Mama grizzlies
- The American people
- I’m just sayin’
- Facebook / Google (when used as verbs)
- Live life to the fullest
Do any of these words and phrases stand out to you as overused, misused or useless for marketing and branding purposes? Does using these words in a marketing or branding campaign equate to an epic fail?
The trick for marketers is keying in on words that resonate with target audiences. A word that is deemed overused or misused by one market segment might be the “it” phrase for another segment. The Lake Superior State University list of banished words is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the results shouldn’t be ignored entirely. Clearly, there is a segment of people who detest the use of “Google” as a verb, but there are undoubtedly other segments that expect the act of conducting an online keyword search to be referred to as “Googling” something.
Again, you need to match your words to your audience as much as you match your message. Ongoing research is essential to ensuring you use the best words for each audience segment. Thanks to the global online conversations that happen on the social Web, it’s easier than ever to listen to your target audience, learn how they communicate and the words they use, and match your marketing copy to those preferences and behaviors.
Bottom-line, just because specific words and phrases irritate some people doesn’t mean those words and phrases are dead. You just need to tread more carefully when using them. Just as you wouldn’t use words like “hip” and “groovy” to a teen audience, you shouldn’t use words like “fail” and “BFF” to an audience of seniors if you want to achieve maximum response rates. It’s common sense, but it can make or break a marketing message.
What word or phrase do you think should be banished in 2011? Leave a comment and share the words that drive you crazy.
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