Adobe Summit EMEA: Words Truly Matter, So Learn Some And Make Some Up

TV presenter and wordsmith Susie Dent believes marketers could be far more effective if only they expanded their vocabularies—so they would always have the right word for a campaign.

Adobe Summit EMEA: Words Truly Matter, So Learn Some And Make Some Up

Expanding their vocabulary will not only make marketers think in new ways, it gives brands more tools to get the right message over, wordsmith Susie Dent told delegates at Adobe EMEA Summit.

Picking up new words and expanding vocabulary knowledge is not just a way of showing off a command of fancy terms but is actually a means to getting over the right message, explains the presenter of TV shows “ Countdown” and “ 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown .”

“We should all think of words like tools, and the more you learn and master, the better chance you have of having the right word in the toolbox for the next campaign,” she said.

“People think this is just something for writers, but research results consistently show that good vocabulary is linked with career success and that knowledge of words came before that success. If you have a wide vocabulary, you not only have the right word for a message, but you also understand other words better and, crucially, you are able to think in new ways.”

Use Effective Words, Not The Right Ones

Dent’s advice is for marketers, indeed all business people, to read and be curious about the meaning of words. The many people in digital who may call themselves “nerds,” for example, may be interested to know that the term comes from people who used to bite the heads off chickens at circus shows.

No matter how wide a person’s vocabulary is, though, one warning from Dent is that brands can actually excel by breaking rules if the wording they chose connects well with their target audience.

“My favourite advert is the O2 ‘Be More Dog,’ where someone very clever has realised they want to communicate in a way so that customers should be happy and playing, not sombre and sitting around the house,” she said.

“The words themselves don’t make any sense on their own, but it’s a really strong campaign. It’s just like the Apple strapline to the advert where they talk about people who have changed the world. ‘Think Different’ makes you scream out, surely they mean differently, where’s the adverb. But it actually works really well. Like ‘I’m loving it’ from McDonald’s. I used to hate that phrase, but now I’m using it like everyone else.”

In case you are worried about suggesting wording that doesn’t quite make sense but just might connect with your audience, Dent’s top tip is to remember Shakespeare. The world laughable is among the many he invented. At the time, though, he was ridiculed for being confused and not saying “laughatable,” which made more sense.

Similarly, it is a good idea for brands to jump on new words, such as “procaffeinate,” which Dent admits is her favourite word at the moment. It is slang for putting something off until you have had another coffee, and Dent cannot believe that a coffee brand has yet to build a campaign around it.