[originally posted here to]



We work in an industry of buzz words. As long as Malcolm Gladwell is writing books and insecure mad men are driven to speak in meetings, buzz words will be a way of life.

And that’s OK. It gives us something new to talk about / make fun of / learn from. But there are at least 3 words that are bad for brands. Not because of the words themselves, but because of what we’ve come to let them mean.

1) Passive – This word is most often wielded like a weapon by the “digital” guy or gal in the meeting as they lick their lips, eying that TV or print budget. But getting brands to focus solely on “active” consumption is detrimental to our cause. Active consumer engagement is great, but maintaining it is quite difficult, if not impossible (I don’t want a relationship with my light bulb brand). Convincing clients otherwise is only going to set us all up for failure.

2) Execution – This one’s most often said by the “strategy” guy or gal. It’s said with a curled lip and dusting motion of the hand, as though it’s of significantly less importance than what they do. Sadly, it’s even led to people apologizing in meetings with lines like “I hate to be so executional.”

Don’t be.

Digital media isn’t a container, but a canvas. This difference alone keeps execution off the bad word list (see any production company complaining about being snubbed during awards season). Instead, it might just be the most important word typical strategy guys and gals are ignoring.

3) One-off – Holy cow, this is like the f-bomb of industry words, isn’t it? “That’s a ‘one-off’ is what you say when you’re looking to draw blood. The reality is fear of one-offs is keeping brands from experimenting. The idea that all manifestations of a brand need to be integrated is insane.

Don’t mistake integration for consistency though. Your brand must be consistent if it wants to persuade consumers of anything, especially a purchase. However, the reluctance of companies to float small experiments into a fragmented media universe is doing many of them harm. The major brands I see experimenting are Axe, Burger King, and Volkswagon. They’re constantly sending things off into the world and ignoring them if they didn’t pan out. If they do turn into something, then they find a way to integrate.

So, lets’ take these 3 off the bad words list. Or, at least find an industry George Carlin to help our cause.


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