Copy Killers, Adjective Debris and Phrases We Vow Not to Use


At Carbon8, we wear many different hats every day. Today, I'm wearing my copywriter hat as I write to you about marketing buzzwords and phrases that drive us crazy. In fact, I'm using this post as an excuse to take a break from researching copy in an industry that is overrun with phrases that lost their meaning more than a decade ago due to overkill and disingenuous use.

At the very top of my phrases-I-swear-I’ll-never-use list is anything to do with “wearing many different hats.” The minute I hear it, I get lost in thinking about how much I dislike it, and it’s 100% guaranteed that I will not hear the next full minute of what the person is saying.

I took a poll around the office to get everyone’s least favorite phrases, and consequently, their answers also happen to be some of the most ineffective phrases around for marketing collateral.

WORDS AND PHRASES WE WILL DO ANYTHING NOT TO USE (and why we are against them)

Real-world results
Use this in your copy and you’ll probably see the kind of “real-world results” you don’t want.

Web 2.0
If you say this more than once in a meeting, it means you don't know what it means.

We get it. These two things work together.

Juxtaposing big and small, hot and cool, a lot and a little
If we hear one more commercial that says big value, small price" or get a lot for a little" we’re considering boycotting their company.

Using coin" instead of money"
Unless you're collecting them, playing Super Mario Brothers or putting them in a machine to get usable money out, you should never say this word.

"We have to [insert lofty, undefined goal like getting end-to-end visibility into profitability]."
Sounds like an awesomely vague goal.

“In today’s changing business environment…”
Somewhere on your desk, there’s a brochure (probably two) that start out with this.

Thinking outside the box
If you’re truly an outside-the-box thinker, we’re pretty sure you should prove it by using something more original than this.

Adjective debris
This is simply the pile of words around nouns that confuse the reader and clutter the meaning of an otherwise perfectly understandable word.

A few more of our least favorite things:

- at the end of the day
- world-class or best-in-class
- value-added
- turnkey solutions
- stepping up to bat
- backburner

Alright, I must get back to my hunt for words that pop. (Actually, let's add the word pop" to our list - not sure I know what that even means).

Kristi Petrie
written by KRISTI PETRIE
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