The Problem with Buzzwords (and Why We Don’t Use Them)

Tell us when this starts to sound familiar:

You’re in an all-hands meeting, talking about the year ahead or the next big product launch. The room is buzzing with excitement as dozens, maybe hundreds of employees simultaneously picture the bright future in store for the company.

As the CEO slowly crescendos to the big finish, the address begins to slip off the rails. Their passionate belief in the company’s vision isn’t the problem—it’s the words.

Well, really, it’s the buzzwords.

As well intentioned as you may be, the quickest way to lose a team’s attention is with a few too many buzzwords. And in 2019, we know you’ve heard them all:

  • Disruptors
  • Digital Transformation
  • “10x it”
  • Move the Needle
  • “The Uber of ______”
  • “The Netflix of ______”
  • Growth Hack

We were tempted to keep the list going, but we’ll cap the list at seven. You get the point.

Buzzwords are everywhere. They float through the halls of startups, fill the meetings of tech execs, and mar the slides of pitch decks across the country. Unfortunately, buzzwords are also nowhere. They’re catchy, poetic, sales-y phrases that are simultaneously inspirational and vapid. Grasp too hard searching for a deeper meaning and you may just come up empty handed.

Just like CRM software, we think the sales and tech spaces have become a bit too jargon-heavy for their own good. That’s why we don’t use them at Ledger.

How Buzzwords Became a Buzzkill

It’s hard to pinpoint the first buzzy word in the history of buzzwords, but we’d wager it might be “synergy.” That sounds like it could be right, yeah? Let’s go with it.

Synergy is a perfect example of why buzzwords are a big bummer sometimes. The term itself isn’t too difficult to understand. But think about how often you’ve actually heard it used outside of a business meeting, press release, or worse, an episode of 30 Rock or The Office.

Synergy has been around for so long at this point that it’s reached joke status in pop culture. And that’s why it’s an easy word to pick on. However, the truth is that most of today’s buzziest buzzwords are headed in the same direction, because they start in one of two main places:

  1. They were mainstays in a company that’s now considered a massive success story.The morning routines and mission statements of now-hugely successful founders and companies like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Amazon, or Facebook have been widely disseminated over the years. These buzzwords seem to carry some of that “secret to success,” even if they lack every other word from the mission statement where they first popped up.
  2. They came directly from an inspirational speaker or influencer. Instagram influencers and popular motivational speakers are a dime a dozen, and if you look closely, many of them speak almost entirely in buzzwords and clever phrases. Don’t get us wrong, we get just as pumped up watching a well-crafted motivational YouTube video as the next person.

The Problem with Buzzwords

It’s understandable how tech got so stuffed with jargon and buzzwords, but we don’t think it’s for the better.

Are buzzwords always bad? Of course not! When they’re homegrown within the walls of your own company HQ, they’re not only emotional shorthand, but they can also be meaningful and important to daily communication.

But when you start throwing out phrases like “disrupting SaaS as the Netflix of edutainment video production,” well, you stop really saying much of anything. Tech companies have a need for sleek and shiny shorthand that tends to prioritize packaging of ideas over actually good ideas. Is your company really disrupting the industry? Or are you hoping that by saying your company is disrupting the industry, people will believe that it is?

When overused, buzzwords are like smoke and mirrors. If you remove them, is the product/company/idea all that magical on its own?

No Additives. No Preservatives. Just the Power of an Idea.

At Ledger, we don’t use buzzwords. Because frankly, we don’t think we’re “disrupting the CRM industry with a lean SaaS product.” We think that sounds kind of dumb.

No, we’re just stripping CRM back to what it should be: A powerful tool designed to let users get stuff done faster, seamlessly, and more peacefully. We don’t need buzzwords to pad and prop up the idea that runs at the core of Ledger’s design, and we don’t need jargon or lingo that unravels as soon as you pull on its meaning.

We only need one word to describe Ledger: Simple.

It’s a nice word, isn’t it?

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