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What does that (branding) even mean?

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

jar talking to a splatter about branding

Today I was lost in thought about the jargon that people use on their websites (and my slow conversion away from that on my own) and in their branding.

I was reading a site that used all of this jargon that was so intricately weaved together I had no idea what they were saying, it did sound lovely.

Our job is to communicate and if we use language that others don't understand we are not communicating, we are delivering words open for interpretation.

But this isn't just a website problem, this is an overall problem. We find ourselves attached to these trending words 'we're innovative in _____' and is it really innovative or just a little different? Is it new or just a tweak ie: a toaster with 4 slices vs 2 slices is not really innovative.

innovation noun in·​no·​va·​tion ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən

Innovative: introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking.

1 : a new idea, method, or device : NOVELTY 2 : the introduction of something new

But we define luxury on our own terms as well, we use 'professional' for anything that has a business card and tosses around 'brand' for anything with an image, regardless of what has been built into it. We tend to think we own these definitions but when it comes to our business, it's our audience that gets to choose whether something is innovative, whether we are exciting, fun, luxurious, bold, creative... and whether we communicate or just share words. Reliable, honest, fun, daring, influential,

When I work with businesses and they want to use terms I question, to make them question whether they believe these words then whether their consumer would use them as well, or whether we just hope they would.

I choose words like blunt, direct, and bold to describe my business, only because these are words that people have used to describe ME, and as I pour into my brand by default, it shows up there as well. I don't use innovation, I have not reinvented any wheel, I have used said wheel for my own benefits and adjusted the angle but not to any surprising innovation for anyone.

My point is that we are too casual with our words without considering them, we are using them incorrectly so we make things confusing, we make expectations misaligned and our customer expectations of us don't match the words we have used so we are all left with wondering 'what does that even mean' if we use the same words for anything... like Canadians using 'sorry' for kicking furniture to apologizing for the weather, sorry just seems like it's not an apology but mere acknowledgment of something.

Julie Boake

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