There are an extremely large number of words in the English language.
The Oxford English Dictionary lists more than 250,000 distinct words, not including many technical, scientific, and slang terms.
If you were to learn one of those words a day via those handy desk calendars people receive for Christmas, it would only take you 700 years to master them all.
These are some of our favourite words here at The Forge: proclivity, plinth, marmoset, tmesis, ichor, fecundity, abstemious, defenestration, zenith, scrimshanker and kerfuffle.
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an abso-blooming-lutely fabulous list*.
There are also 47,156 words listed as now being obsolete.
We’ve reached the conclusion that it’s time to make a few more words obsolete.
It’s because marketing has become plagued with people talking a right load of WONQ. By WONQ we mean using Words Of Negligible Quality.
This is almost certainly true for other industries, it just seems much worse in ours.
At their most powerful words should provide clarity, inspiration and provocation. They should help people understand. They should make people think, and they should make them feel.
However, too often words can be lazy, offering little meaning, or indeed the wrong meaning. They can be vague. They can be nonsensical. They can be made up. And to be honest, they can be cobblers.
So here are the words we’d render obsolete from marketing conversations. The words we’d commit to Room 101 and the words we’d vote to take a Bush Tucker Trial.
This is obviously based entirely on our own prejudices, but we did find it a hugely cathartic experience. We are pretty sure that a marketing world free from these words would be a much happier place.
“We must take an holistic approach to this challenge”.
A word that has lost its meaning. These days this clearly means: when we can’t decide what to focus on we’ll just do a bit of everything.
“We need to leverage our strategy to be successful”
That simply means just actually do something, right?
“It’s all about the content ”; “yes, definitely all about the content”
When did producing marketing activity suddenly become about creating ‘content’. What does it even mean? How can you have marketing activity without content? Who creates marketing vacuum? We call bullshit.
“What we need to do here is something massively disruptive”
What? You are going to spoil things for everyone like a rowdy toddler at a birthday party? In marketing terms this usually means throwing strategy out of the window & dropping a heap of cash on a vanity project that does nothing.
“great news, this ad has excellent viewability”
Used to describe whether an ad was actually seen by real life people. As with any marketing on or off the web, what’s the point in creating something if no one actually views it? Poor viewability means no one has seen it. Which really means an ad had poor viewing figures. Which is not really the ad’s fault.
“Our brand stands for trust”.
Clearly trust is a good thing, but trust as a word to help build focused brands is pretty useless. Show us the successful brand that stands for “un-trustworthy and dishonesty”. It’s too fat to be helpful.
“Our brand gives people confidence”
Yes, but in some way probably so do at least half the world’s brands. In the absence of being able to define something more specific & meaningful let’s just be lazy and ladder up to confidence.
“We need to gather some more data on this one for the Data Lake”
Big does not mean better. More does not necessarily take you any further. You just end up drowning in the ‘data lake’. Just as it always has been, we use the information and data we have and focus on the core stories and insights.
So that’s the first list of WONQ. There are probably lots more to come.
We also had a little trawl through the obsolete words list to find some that could genuinely add value to the world of marketing in 2015.
Here they are:
Cockalorum – a short man with a high opinion of himself c 1790
Brabble – To argue loudly about something inconsequential. c 1530
Quackerwodger – A wooden puppet, controlled by strings c 1850
Monsterful – Wonderful and extraordinary. c1810
Twattle – To gossip, or talk idly. c1600
Feel free to use as appropriate.
And also feel free, when the right moment arises, to shout…
“Shut it you WONQER!”
(*That’s tmesis for you!)
With thanks to Taro for the image