When a politician says that an issue is the ‘greatest moral issues of our time’, do you believe him or her?

When Bunnings says that the offer ‘the lowest price always’, do you believe them?

When Woolworths says that their fruit and vegetables are ‘the freshest available’, do you believe them?

When a law firm says that they are ‘second to none’, do you believe them?

Everyone I have asked these questions over the last week has said NO to all four question. What is more, I am sure that does not surprise you or anyone else.

This of course begs the question – ‘If no one believes these statements, why make them?’

I would have thought that the answer to that is several, including:
– It worked once because it was believed at some stage in the past and there is a tendency to cling onto the past
– The people developing the slogans are not as innovative or thoughtful as they might be and have not thought of anything more credible to say.
– These slogans work at a deeper level. We may reject them in our conscious mind but accept them (possibly due to repetition) in our unconscious mind

I suspect that is a combination of all three. What I also suspect is however that the community is increasingly jaded with hyperbole and less and less inclined to believe it. Research suggests that his effect is being accelerated by the ‘y’ generation’s rejection of the inauthentic. They just do not engage with all the hype and exaggerated promises they grew up with.

Research also suggests that the ‘y’ generation is actively seeking out vendors that are authentic and focus more on saying it as it is.
Another issue here is the use of platitudes.

I was in an accounting firm the other day reading their brochure. I was STAGGERED to find out that their service was ‘excellent’ and that they offered ‘value for money’. Amazing, I have never heard of an accounting firm that offered those features before.

Read the brochures of any three accounting firm and they offer the same platitudes in support of their claim to your business. Other than for their address and the names on the stationary, you will not be able to tell them apart.

The same is true of law firms, engineering firms, real estate agents and a host of other service firms. They all make the same platitudinous claims. They may package them a little differently, but even a half-witted client spots the platitude.

This begs the question, ‘if they are all going to say the same thing, why say it at all?’ I agree, most of them would be better off saving their money and simply relying on relationships to drive business. So why do they do it?

Again there are probably many reasons including:
– They are just doing what they think they have to do
– They don’t understand differentiation or being innovative
– Clients just want things confirmed, and that is enough
– They are not prepared to do the work involved to differentiating themselves and being authentic.

Again, I suspect it a bit of all of these factors, in varying measures. I also suspect that the market is weary of platitudes and is craving authenticity. Research suggests that social media users are increasingly savage with both hyperbole and platitudes.
We are OVER both of them.

So what should we do? Well my thoughts are:
– Avoid hyperbole and say it as it is, a directly as you can
– Find your true tangible differentiators and avoid platitudes

This in turn might involve:
– Clearly defining your brand
– Clearly defining your tone of voice
– Ensuring that all communication is consistent with both

It works, of that I can assure you.

Unlike hyperbole and platitudes it will also avoid alienating the ‘y’ generation.


Just a thought.


This issue will be discussed in detail on THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK –www.djohncarlsonesq.com/publishing

John Carlson is a behavioural scientist, strategic planner and lateral thinker focusing on branding, marketing, communication, personal advancement, business development and behaviour management.


No tags 0