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Every year, as summer wanes and back-to-school sales tempt my wallet, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for reading, writing and arithmetic (in that order, be assured). More than any other season, I associate the school days of fall with new ideas. It’s no wonder, then, that when Oxford University Press announced a few weeks ago some 2,000 words being added to the latest edition of its New Oxford American Dictionary, I perked up with interest. And then, I laughed out loud. Of course, I know what a “bromance” is, and yes, I’ve used the term to poke fun at male friends (as well as a certain collection of Hollywood actors who apparently were placed on earth for each other only). But I’ve always thought of “bromance” as a non-word, the kind your computer attempts to correct the second you type it (just now, mine changed “bromance” to the not even close “bromine”). Now, bromance has been vindicated, as have former non-words such as chillax, frienemy, interweb, turducken, vuvuzela and many others, which got me thinking: if everyday slang can weasel its way into the common vernacular, can certain brands and businesses develop their own lexicon? If given the chance, what non-words would you have made real? “Funner,” anyone?
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud here, but it seems as if there are non-words used within the marketing industry that deserve real-word status. A quick poll of my colleagues at Vertical Marketing Network turned up a slew of examples, and it also sparked some exciting conversation.
Two existing terms from within the marketing industry are “advertorial” and “mobile marketing.” Advertorial is a great industry term, a portmanteau of “advertising” and “editorial.” Mobile marketing is a little less obvious in concept, since no, wheels are not involved. Rather, it pertains to marketing to consumers via mobile devices such as Smartphones. “Ideation” is a noun by definition that relates to psychology, but it’s also an emerging marketing concept; Vertical Marketing employs ideation experts who specialize in a style of brainstorming and creative campaign building that stems from activity, experience, information and pointed cues. The results make the round-table discussions of yesteryear pale in comparison. Consider, too, these suggestions for real-word status:
Apportunity (n.) — an opportunity for your business to create your own Smartphone application, or reach out to consumers via an existing app. Betsy Berman and I coined this one when discussing Smartphone applications a few weeks ago, and I find myself using it often since.
Cyberlibel (n.) — an actual thing, sort of. This phrase refers to defamation that takes place in cyberspace, which unlike actual defamation, raises legal issues of anonymity and free speech. Either way, it’s a hot topic in our “webcentric” world.
NBT (n.) — in a world that communicates more and more via abbreviation (BFF, LOL, TMI, TTFN) this is a clipped version of Next Big Thing. New trends, be they etymological or otherwise, are just around the corner, and the NBT is what marketing professionals are looking out for.
Onspiration (n.) — a portmanteau of “online” and “inspiration,” this not only refers to inspiration e-mail forwards, but to ways in which brands and businesses can inspire consumer loyalty.
Premiumization (n.) — the inevitable ascent of products within a brand.
Text-giving (v.) — similar to mobile giving, this is another extension that has proven to work. Consumers can use Smartphones to shop, surf the Web and vote for the next American Idol. Now, they’re donating to charity with the push of a button.
Vertical activation (n.) — (unrelated to Vertical Marketing Network, although we think we’re good at it) this is the act of reaching a target via consistent and motivating communications which garner a response (or activation) by said target. Imagine marketing as a ladder, at the top of which is your customer. Each rung is a step in a successful campaign that gets your brand closer to the top.
As newly coined terms and phrases become a part of our collective consciousness, they have the potential to be recognized as such. Still, says Fiona McPherson, senior editor of the OED’s new words group, “words have to pass a few basic tests before they can be deemed to have entered the language. They have to have been around a reasonable amount of time and be in common use.” Three to five years ago, terms such as “carbon footprint,” “defriend,” and “tweets” and “tweeps” who write them would have rendered me lost. These days, they’re as ubiquitous as the “blast offs,” “far outs” and “groovies” of generations past. Could our words one day make the short list?
In the freshman English-class favorite, Shakespeare’s Juliet says to her Romeo: “What’s in a name?” Sweet Juliet, clearly everything.