Buzzwords Ain’t So Bad

The good ones are representative of the company, its leadership and values

Really, I am okay with buzzwords. I know that people are likely sick of
them, but I find them appropriate from time to time, even effective in building
culture. Here’s proof: Who do you associate with “Six Sigma” or do you know
what we’re talking about when we reference “Five-Nines Reliability?” Are you
proud of being a “black belt,” yet have never broken a board with your


Put it another way – one person’s buzzword could very well be an
organization’s rallying cry. There are several reasons why I think such
neologisms are of value to businesses:

  • They are easy to
    recall and remember
  • They have an “insider”
  • They can signify
    something new and valuable
  • They inherently invite
    others – employees and customers alike — to get onboard

There is a litany of examples where buzzwords have succeeded to being
part of the American culture. Anyone CEO who ever said “there’s no ‘I’ in team”
can relate. Which brings me to the main point of why I love buzzwords; they can
help companies stay internally focused while helping to clearly articulate
their benefit to customers. That’s not to say that one catch phrase will
overcome any operational, product or management issues. However, they can
certainly drive grass roots, word-of-mouth marketing at little costs.

There are, of course, some things I’ve learned when trying to use or
even create a buzzword. Here are a few that I try to keep in mind:

  • Don’t overuse the catch phrase: It has to be something that’s
    natural and meaningful when spoken. Too much of a good thing is just that.
  • Don’t overly market the buzzword: Truth is, for the idiom to
    truly catch on, others have to do it and without prompting. There’s really
    very little magic or science to it. It either does or doesn’t. What’s
    more, an expensive ad or employee relations campaign will often kill it.
  • Let others do the buzzing: The best catch phrases are ones
    where customers, employees, and partners create. A top-down approach
    rarely succeeds.

Here at Red Door, there is special meaning to the word, “jerk” which
relates to our core values (get to know us and you’ll know that there are no
jerks here) or “Ritz experience” which describes our attention to detail and
expectation of always going above and beyond. We have a lexicon unique to us,
but one that bonds the team together.

Herein lies the real power being buzzwords – they are an inherent part
of an organization’s culture, leadership and values. If a company and, more
importantly, its employees, possess passion and zeal for both itself and its
customers, such idioms will have greater potential for widespread adoption.
What’s more, it’s those types of catch phrases I find most endearing, because
they are a true reflection of the organization’s management style and esprit de