Passion, innovation, and other meaningless words

Posted on November 28, 2015

Reader participation required!

This post requires reader participation. Don’t worry, it’s not the kind of participation that makes your toes curl, it’s rather the enlightening kind. The ‘things that make you go hmmmm’*  kind.  Here’s what to do:

1) ‘Google’ (or ‘Bing’) the following words: WE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT

2) Look at your search results and note the words following “…ABOUT.” For example, if one of your results says “we are passionate about Tupperware,” note “Tupperware.”

Here’s a selection of what I get; theatre, brand development, paragliding, what we do, carp fishing, tensile structures, free standing baths, unleashing creative potential, traveling responsibly in Mongolia, facilities management, politics, pashminas, organic self-sufficiency, and my own personal favourite from the Scarlet Band Bus & Coach Company, who tell us (in their list of USPs) they are passionate about ‘operating all of their scheduled mileage.’ Although let’s be honest, who isn’t?

Repeating the same exercise but this time with the words ‘WE INNOVATE’ and within the first couple of pages of results, a company with perhaps the most literal justification for using the words ‘passion’ and ‘innovation’ appears: Durex. In fact, Durex proudly claim to ‘innovate and innovate!’ whatever that means.

Now don’t get me wrong; I understand and sympathise with companies wishing to convey their passion and innovative achievements. It’s a good thing. But the fact is, the use of these words has become compulsory.**  They’re sprinkled liberally across the Web to such an extent they become background white noise, their significance lost entirely in the ether.

**Modern Website Copywriting 101, Lesson 1: Mention Passion and Innovation  – and do it quick.

“We have a passion for curing disease and finding new innovative ways to tackle World hunger.” Would this sentence mean any less if it said “We cure disease and work to tackle World hunger”? I don’t think so. Whilst the former sentence may convey more accurately the emotion and intelligence of those behind it, the intended impact seems lost.

In many ways I suppose this dilution of meaning is inevitable. There are so many people in the World yet only so many words. When pooled together in the maelstrom of the Web, repetition is unavoidable. Sad in a way, but perhaps rather than professing passion and innovation, it need simply be reflected.Reflected in the creativity, the work and and ultimately, the results. Just ask Durex: 95-98% efficiency apparently..

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