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WTF is “SYNERGY?”


by Chris Anderson on 2 November 2016

Have we all accepted business jargon as a fact of life? I’m not referring to technical, industry-specific language. That stuff is necessary, obviously. I mean the business-esque buzzwords that seem to plague workplaces today and are thrown around un-ironically by the truckload. Think of the many nebulous, “action-oriented” clichés you hear, such as “breaking down the silos” or “empowering customers.”

Every company has its popular phrases. Some even elevate this clever BS into mission statements. The belief seems to be that jargon has some power to create a unique position for the individual user (job security?) or the organization that aims to own it. It’s, uh… “differentiation.” But does it actually work?

We have all had colleagues who can take it a bit far. I know I’m guilty. You may be too. During my time in corporations, I have been sent numerous calendar invitations for get-togethers called “alignment.” Am I going to a meeting or getting my car serviced?

The worst offenders are the marketing firms that attempt to apply pseudo branding to processes every other agency follows, with relatively little variation. To someone who has hired and fired a number of marketing agencies, hearing something like “we enable and leverage brand synergies” in a pitch sounds like a junior copywriter spending too much time on Thesaurus.com. But don’t just roll your eyes and yawn. In reality, this can be an attempt to hide from accountability behind jargon the prospective client isn’t supposed to question.

Am I being too cynical?

Clients don’t care about their marketing agency’s process. They care about the work…or more precisely, the results of the work. So let’s get some “synergy” and “alignment” on language. We all know the KISS* method. It applies nicely to how agencies and clients should communicate with each other (not to mention all co-workers). If your marketing agency talks in clichés, be wary of what they’re selling.

In closing, enjoy this in moderation:

The Corporate BS Generator – http://www.atrixnet.com/bs-generator.html

*Keep it simple, stupid.