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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Words matter, so be respectful

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  • I’m worried about my brand.
    It’s stale and needs a refresh, and frankly I’m not sure I have it in me.
    The times, they are a’changin’ and they have slipped past me to a place where “ask” and “edit” are nouns and “transition” is really pretentious verb. Products and programs are no longer launched. They simply launch, as if inanimate objects or concepts somehow can do that on their own.
    This is not a happy place for me, but neither is scolding all these assailants of the language, though it does make me feel better.
    There is much anger in the world, and one more aging, clueless dude wagging his finger at most of the planet is not only redundant but it’s a bad brand move. Big market but lots of competitors.
    But as long as we’re embracing mindless jargon, allow me to flip the script:
    I am not a brand. You are not a brand. Your favorite politician or political party is not a brand. Your church is not a brand.
    How shamefully facile and deeply cynical have we become that the conventions and cliches of business have come to define every last aspect of the human experience? Can we not do better?
    The word “brand” has two good uses – for a company, product or service, and to identify a little lost cow.
    In that first sense, we get “brand management,” which comes with the idea that the right public relations judo can undo the worst missteps. This is where the cynicism comes in. So the company defrauded everyone, and the execs blew the money on a bad weekend in Vegas? No worries. Refresh, rebrand and relaunch. If it’s bad enough, rename. Do not express regret.
    It’s one thing to say that your church, non-profit or even government should borrow some good ideas from business and should be like – like – a business, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that none of those things really are businesses. For one thing, I’ve been in the private sector my whole life and I can assure you that its virtues, especially in efficiency, are vastly overstated. Make no mistake: The marketplace is the golden goose, and let’s not lose that, but we are at serious risk of turning it into the golden calf.
    The point is that those non-business organizations tackle different problems – usually harder ones than businesses do – and have different objectives. So can we show a little respect and use appropriate language that honors this work? Can we not do better?
    Page 2 of 2 - Reach Jeff Fox at 816-350-6313 or jeff.fox@examiner.net. Follow on Twitter @FoxEJC or Jeff_Fox.

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