So Many Words That Really Need To Go

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We’re not a month into the new year and already there’s a list of 11 words used in advertising to be banned. Of course while some banned word lists are perfect examples of political correctness run amok, the latest list of words, used predominantly in marketing, include some nominations that, in this humble wordsmith’s opinion, really need to go.
How fortunate that someone has taken the time to pull a list together for us…

  1. customer focused
  2. best in class
  3. low-hanging fruit (ewww!)
  4. exceed expectations
  5. unique
  6. value added
  7. expert
  8. seasoned
  9. exceptional ROI
  10. partner
  11. turn-key

Not to be outdone, there’s a Leanwashing Index 2013 list of food marketing words that should be off limits. The words to be banned this year include natural, made with, whole grains, light and 100 calorie. If you look you’ll notice how often these appear on food labels. Leanwashing is what happens when a company exaggerates (no!) or misleads (impossible!) consumers about the benefits to health that might come from consuming the item. Being aware of the practice, and reading labels with a jaundiced eye are key to protecting yourself and your family.
This banned words list was inspired by the arrival of the word “superfood” on Lake Superior State University’s 38th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse. The impressively titled list is made from nomination sent to the Michigan based institution all year long and was released just a few weeks ago. This year the list includes overused media favorites like “fiscal cliff” and “job creators”, obnoxious expressions like “kick the can down the road” and “double down”, along with my own personal cringe-inducer “YOLO”.
As a professional writer, and lover of language, I agree that many of these words have far outlived their usefulness, are just too irritating and overused to be effective. And yet, there are times when one of these is the best, most direct word to convey meaning. I’d submit that rather than ban such words outright, you employ the services of a talented copywriter who knows how to choose the right words (banned or not) to convey your meaning.
If you can’t hire a copywriter, the next best thing is to work with a promotional products representative when it comes to putting copy on any product that bears your company name. These pros have a lot of experience helping businesses promote themselves, they’ve seen it all, and they stay on top of trends. They  know how to get things done so you get what you need, when you need it.
It’s true that past banned word lists, even the long-standing LSSU one, haven’t gotten rid of words like “viral” or “amazing”, the obnoxious “LOL” or stupid “man cave” from the spoken/written word, so it’s not likely any of the entries on the current round of 2013 lists will disappear anytime soon. It just helps word nerds (like me) to know that others share our aversion.

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