Word Fugitives: 7 Criminally Overused Marketing Words That Need to Be Locked Away for Life

by Common Thread Collective Collaborator

Sep. 08 2017

Have you seen these words?


Chances are good that you absolutely have, but don’t remember it. That’s why these words need to go—they’re unmemorable, boring, and (the greatest crime of all) they don’t mean anything to your customer. And yet, we’ve found that marketing departments across the globe are guilty of aiding and abetting the use of these words (they’re almost as guilty as I am of beating this metaphor to death).



What does “premium” mean, really? This word has become a stealthy stand-in for “good,” the vaguest word of them all. When you use the word “premium” in your advertising, you are attempting to validate your product without really explaining the concrete reasons why your product is premium. Customers gravitate to the nitty-gritty—the nuts-and-bolts reasons your product will change their lives. Premium signals excellence without anchoring that claim to anything real.


Like “premium,” “quality” is similarly vague. David Ogilvy, the godfather of advertising, has an intense dislike for this word because it’s almost impossible to validate. That’s because “quality” is wildly subjective. You need to develop a message that explains why your product has a tangible value to build a story about “quality” in your consumers’ minds.



Many brands describe themselves or their processes as “relentless.” This word exists to stroke the egos of those who created the product—we worked hard to make this happen—without really explaining to the consumer the specifics of what, exactly, makes their product useful to anyone else.



Better than what? You had better lay out the specifics of why your product is “better.”



If you use the word “luxury,” you’re not a luxury brand. Look, only reality TV stars feel the need to use the word “classy.” That’s because their definition of “classy” is not passing out on the floor of a Miami club. That’s not where you want your brand to be.



Did you actually form your product with your bare hands (or someone else’s bare hands)? If so, use the word “crafted.” Better yet, qualify the crafting by explaining how it’s “crafted.” Is it handcrafted? Is it artisanal? If not, you’re (again) offering your customer an illusion without offering them a reality.



This word epitomizes the lethal abstraction that brands find themselves drawn to. You can make like a TED Talk windbag and say that your brand is innovative until you pass out, but your “innovation” will be just a bunch of pseudo-Silicon Valley posturing unless you can demonstrate with specific examples why your product is genuinely different.


We present this Most Wanted list to you only because we’re absolutely guilty of using these words too. It’s easy to define your product by the idea that gave your product life. But if there’s a common thread (!) here, it’s that abstract concepts are product-killers—what really sells your product is your product. Nothing more, nothing less.


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