Quick Quiz: What kind of design solution is a “visual identity system”? (hint: It may be related to a “brand isotope system.”)
It’s a logo.
These are some of the biz-jargon terms tossed around in this article about the re-branding initiative recently unveiled for the State of Tennessee.
My initial reaction to the proposed new TN logo design is that the end result is a visual brick – but that’s not what I want to discuss in this post. Instead, let’s think about the biz jargon meant to create some sort of mystique around design projects.
Marketing/Design/Advertising agencies are great for spinning out jargon-loaded nonsense in order to justify their high fees. But three of the most common over-used terms really irk me: “system,” “services,” and “solution.” If you want to throw “platform” into the mix as well, I won’t protest.
Yesterday, I went past a nursing home calling itself “Senior Living Solutions.” Huh? A place to live out your senior years is now a solution? Of course, I passed at least one UPS truck with “Worldwide Services” emblazoned on its side – whatever that vaporous term is supposed to mean (oh – it means “synchronizing the world of commerce” – my bad).
We adopt these jargonized terms because they make what we do sound more official and complex. Yet what we lose in the process is simple, clear communication. Bad trade.
I’d like to propose that we throw all caution overboard and start to move into a fully jargon-based world, where “more” is better than “clear”. Here’s my beginning list of new phrases we might consider:
- Teaching = human-generated intergenerational content transmission services
- Desk lamp = location-dependent photon-generation platform
- Clock = sequential time expiration presentation system (visual)
- Coffee = liquified energy-resource renewal solution
Surely this is just the beginning – please should feel free to add your own suggested phrases in the comments. By the end of the day, we can create the first Dictionary of Jargonized Obfuscation!
Further insight: here’s a great post from Josh Bernoff about writing better – getting rid of weasel words, jargon, excess length, etc.