What A Buzzkill! Marketing Buzzwords That Need To Be Given A Rest

Jargon. Lingo. B.S. Whatever you call it, when you work in this industry, you’ve likely engaged in the much-loved pastime of marketingspeak. And while we aren’t opposed to dropping the occasional lexicon-bomb, there are some words that get bandied about so much, they lose their meaning and their gravitas.

Now we’re not saying to stop using industry-trending vocabulary altogether. What we are saying, however, is to be more selective about when and where to use it. There’s much respect to be gained when using terminology correctly and in the right context, and a lot to be lost when you don’t. So without further ado, here are the top six marketing buzzwords we feel could do with some downtime.



Here’s the deal: an agile workplace is not the same as an Agile workplace. If your team uses the formal project management approach developed by software firm Agile, then you have an Agile workplace. If, however, you are describing a team that quickly adjusts to changing circumstances, then it’s probably be best to use an alternative term, especially if you don’t really know what the Agile approach entails. Our recommended alternatives include adaptable, flexible, or if you want to get just a little buzzy, pro-responsive.


Disruption (and all its variations)

The ironic thing about disruption is it’s so overused, it’s no longer disruptive. Really, it feels as if every start-up and their dog refer to themselves as disruptive. And there’s somewhat of a negative connotation to using disruptive to describe yourself. Much like the cool rule, if you have to say it about yourself, then you’re probably not.

To avoid the inevitable post-use eye-roll, try one of the many other terms that better encapsulates what disruption aims to convey. Innovation, inventive, unorthodox, and even change are appropriate, much less buzzy, and won’t make you sound like every other “disruptive” business out there.



Most industry folk recognize that marketing’s new mode du jour is transparency. And that makes the concept of optics, that is, purposely staging elements to push people towards a certain belief, redundant.

Today’s consumers are a savvy bunch who can easily see through any efforts to dupe, even if done in only the slightest way. What’s more, they are all too happy to tell anyone and everyone about the situation as it really stands, particularly on social media. So you run a huge risk of actually damaging your reputation by adopting optics-driven tactics. Instead of optics, focus on actualities. This simple change ensures you remain driven by transparency, and not by the smoke and mirrors approach that people have come to loathe.


Authenticity + Transparency

Ok, hear us out on this one. We stand by the notion that authenticity and transparency are essential to doing business today. But what’s not cool is when these phrases are thrown around purely for the purpose of getting in on the buzz.

If you or your brand don’t whole-heartedly embrace and implement these concepts, then please don’t tout that you do. A false promise of authenticity is not only highly disrespectful, it also damages your reputation (see point above). Rule of thumb: if you don’t truly embrace it, don’t say it.



Lesson one in going viral: nobody has the absolute power to make it happen. Lesson two: as suggested by lesson one, you cannot plan, expect, or demand your team to make it to happen. If you do, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

Rather than saying you want your content to go viral, concentrate instead on creating excellent content that resonates highly with your target audience. Do not under any circumstances state ‘going viral’ as an actual goal or objective for your content. Considering it a lofty ambition or added bonus is fine but expressly expecting it as a result is not. Why? Because it’s unrealistic – you cannot predict what will go viral and what won’t – and it suggests you don’t fully grasp what going viral actually means.


Radical / Revolutionary

There are two key reasons why we take issue with radical and revolutionary. First, they are usually used in place of more accurate terms such as progressive or innovative. Unless new markets are being created and/or eliminated, or people are creating previously unimagined habits, then it’s highly unlikely that a business, product or approach is actually radical or revolutionary.

Secondly, these terms have been used so much that it diminishes a brand’s worth when used, especially when it isn’t factually correct. Rather than getting lost in the sea of overuse, we suggest bringing it back to basics. Again, words such as inventive and unconventional work just as well in getting your point across, and have less of that annoying, just-another-brand-calling-itself-revolutionary aftertaste.