13 Brand Buzzwords to Nix From Your Vocabulary


What is one word or phrase you’d like to see brands stop using to describe themselves? Why?

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. “One-Stop Shop”

“You are not a one-stop shop! You excel at one or maybe a couple things. You water down your impact and your brand when you think that making a blanket statement is benefiting your marketing. Be confident to own what you are the best at, and don’t claim you do it all!”

Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

2. “Disruptive”

“Disruptive. The word just needs to be retired. Focus instead on actually conveying what customer problem your business exists to solve and how you and your team can do it better than anyone else. Demonstrating passion and relevance helps users (and investors) connect the dots.”

David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

3. “Innovative”

“We all know if you’re innovative or not by how you explain your company. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you’ve got something amazing. You don’t have to tell us. Yes, your product is the coolest thing since sliced cheese… but we don’t need to hear about it every time you pitch your story.”

John RamptonJohnRampton.com

4. “The X of Y”

“Everyone wants to be the “Uber/AirBnB/Twitter of Y.” By describing your company as intrinsically relative to another, you can limit (a)your own creativity, and (b) how others perceive you. The most successful startups — especially marketplaces — are ones that actually dive deep into the peculiarities of their own industry.”

Basha Rubin, Priori Legal

5. “Guru”

“Please stop saying stuff like you’re a social media guru or ninja. As my buddy says, “the louder you are, the more you are trying to prove yourself.” Let the work do the talk and the clients do the talking for you.”

Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

6. “Game Changer”

“Every new product or service could be classified as a game changer if it is slightly different than what is available on the market. Instead of using time in your quick pitch to tell people your idea is a game changer, spend the time telling us about the problem you solve, how you solve it and where you are at today. Let the proof be in the pudding.”

Andrew Hoeft, Pinpoint Software, Inc.

7. “Authentic”

“If you have to point out to people that you’re really “authentic,” there’s a problem. I’ll decide for myself if I think you and your business are authentic.”

Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

8. “Best in Class”

“Unless you are objectively the market leader, you are probably not the best in class. Brands are better off showcasing real, tangible benefits customers have received and letting those benefits speak for themselves.”

Alexandra LevitInspiration at Work

9. “Global”

“The past generation of entrepreneurs feels the need to artificially inflate their footprint and show themselves as “global” or “national” with offices in all the major cities. Young people can see right through that and the push is to work more locally if possible so it’s actually counterproductive to making sales.”

Josh Fuhr, Auditrax

10. “Crushing” Anything

“This needs to stop being used — if anyone ever uses it, it usually means the opposite. Real words to use to talk about success are active, particular, and relevant to your business niche, like, “We’re developing a suite of elegant social media tools” instead of “We’re crushing social media.” Unless you’re actually taking an object and applying force to reduce its size… you’re not crushing it.”

Jared BrownHubstaff

11. “Innovative”

“Apple’s website never (or rarely) uses the word “innovative.” It’s the first word that springs to mind when describing the company yet they never say it about themselves. That’s because innovation speaks for itself. It’s like being cool — you don’t get to decide if you’re cool; other people do. The second you start calling yourself innovative, people begin to doubt it.”

Brian HonigmanBrianHonigman.com

12. “Alternative”

“The word “alternative” is extremely vague; what exactly is the company or product the alternative to? If it is the alternative to the brand’s perception of the status quo, then it would be more prudent for the brand to use more descriptive, creative words to enhance value to the name.”

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

13. “Scrappy”

“Take the “s” off the beginning, and that’s exactly what this word conveys to potential investors, customers and employees. Most people who are starting a new company begin small, but that’s not a bragging point. Use adjectives that convey the authority and trust you need to build up in the beginning, and most importantly, follow through with actions on your part to create those values.”

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com