I was walking through the airport returning from a business trip the other day when I saw a big and probably really expensive banner that read, “Company X Lab Procedures – RE-INVENTED”. I scoffed at it a bit, mumbling under my breath, “…really? Are they really re-inventing their lab procedures? Aren’t they just improving them?” As I was grumpily talking to myself out loud in the middle of the airport about how much I hated each and every corporate buzzword in the business world today, I began to simultaneously wonder if I was really this crotchety or just really tired after a long business trip. For my own self-esteem, I went with just really tired.
It did get me worked up enough, though, to sit down while waiting for my baggage to arrive to do some quick internet research on my phone about other products I had seen advertisements for over the last several months that all seemingly were being branded with the new corporate buzzword “re-invented.” What did I find? Motor oil. Interesting. Health care. OK I’ll support that one based on the cost of my monthly health insurance. Then more popped up. Soup. Yes there really was a campaign for soup being re-invented. How do you re-invent soup? Credit cards. Really? Shirts. We’re re-inventing the shirt? Seemed to be working pretty well already. And then there was bottled water. Someone actually decided that the re-inventing branding was right for water – something that none of us humans actually invented in the first place. The list continued, and I began to find myself becoming nauseous. I was clearly jet lagged but the amount of things being branded as “re-invented” was at least partially responsible for me feeling a bit sick.
It reminded me of about 15 or so years ago when I was equally as annoyed with the corporate buzzword “Extreme!” ad campaigns. Some of you may not even remember those. Consider yourselves lucky. Back then, it seemed that every product needed to be extreme for some unknown reason. Maybe this was because we were coming out of the grunge-rock era and needed to still feel tough or something like that. But I remember seeing products that one would never really need or want to associate with being “EXTREME!!” in any way: toothpaste, deodorant, chewing gum, and a variety of others I have fortunately blocked out of my memory.
I’m not against the idea and need for companies to re-invent themselves or be extreme…I guess. I think it is the corporate buzzword bandwagon bonanza that always makes me think about if we are throwing around terms without much thought just because they are en vogue and everyone else is doing it. Is whipped cream really extreme? Or is branding whipped cream as re-invented going to resonate with the broader whipped cream eating population? Or might there be other branding language we could use that actually makes more sense?
So in the spirit of going against the bandwagon, I’d like to lobby for us to dump the re-inventing buzz. Or maybe we could just re-invent the expression re-invent. That might be cool. On my next jet lagged business trip, I would love to walk through the airport and see another overpriced banner proclaiming, “Re-invented…re-invented.” At least for that one I could tell people how ironic that was. For my part, I’m going to make sure I manage my sleep a bit better on my next trip so I don’t come across like an 85 year old grumpy old man in my next blog.