We word nerds have told you to beware the blandwagon and not sound like everyone else. Like you, we’re all sick of seeing the same meaningless, pedestrian words and phrases online and in print – ‘quality’, ‘innovation’, and ‘customer-focused’ spring to mind.
These worn words might be fashionable but they are often worthless.
The right words, however, turn a bland marketing message into awesomesauce. But how do you write something that is unputdownable?
How about making it up?
Invent a word. Coin a new phrase. Be zany and maybe you’ll be noticed.
After all, that’s what advertising is all about – daring to be different so your message rises to the top and is actually seen, or read, or heard, or shared…And a weird word or quirky heading is sure to attract attention.
Shakespeare did it. Some say that we owe over 2000 words to the literary master (although sceptics have tried to debunk a fair few). Many of the italicised words in this meme are thanks to wordsmith Will.
Ernest Hemingway (by-line), Charles Dickens (boredom), Lewis Carroll (chortle), and Dr Seuss (nerd) also spun an impressive list of words that are now common, everyday terms.
So how can you invent and use new words in your marketing materials? Try these ideas:
Invent a portmanteau
Why use one word when you can use two? That’s what a portmanteau is – two words strung together to form another, while retaining the meaning and sound of the original words. Think brunch (breakfast and lunch), jeggings (jeans and leggings), biopic (biography and picture), and glitterati (glitter and literati).
The word portmanteau is a portmanteau itself – Lewis Carroll merged the French word porter (to carry) and manteau (cloak) to term the cloak-carrying suitcase used in the olden days.
You could come up with creative new ways to describe your products and services. A swimming pool umbrella becomes a pumbrella (pool and umbrella) or perhaps a prolly (pool and ‘brolly’). A web developer’s mobile website service becomes a mebsite (mobile and website), while a baker’s new cupcake-muffin creation could be a cuffin (cake and muffin).
The portmanteaus you invent should match your brand’s tone of voice. A fun and funky fashion label can obvs spice up their marketing with cheeky words, while a professional services site would need to be more formal.
Use prefixes and suffixes
Affixes (such as pre-, pro-, de-, sub-, un-, and -ship, -ate, -ise, and –able) are gems that change the meaning of existing words – or creating entirely new ones. Declutter, import, unravel, and inhabitable are a few examples.
Why not put a new spin on known industry words and terms to surprise your target market? For instance, you could refer to your fish market as a fishdom, or describe your partnership with plumbers and electricians as a tradeship.
Make ‘em up
Still stuck? Why not channel Shakespeare and just make up a new word? After all, that’s allegedly how we got the words bet, buzzer, dwindle, lonely, and luggage.
You might have to provide a definition – and try not to be so clever that you alienate your audience – but coining a new word could totes enliven your message and get people to pay attention.
What are your favourite word creations? Share them in the comments below.