In Brief: Business Buzzwords; Brand Voices

November 2, 2018


How Dunkin’ Donuts and Weight Watchers Are Changing Their Brands

Recently, two highly recognizable companies announced they were undergoing major rebrands to accommodate modern consumer attitudes: Dunkin’ Donuts planned to shed the word Donuts from its name, becoming simply Dunkin’, and Weight Watchers would be officially called WW.

According to Allen Adamson of consulting firm Metaforce, these name changes allow both brands to modernize and prevent becoming pigeonholed.
For instance, by axing any references to fried dough from its name, Dunkin’ Donuts can market itself as a health-embracing brand. “It gives them some flexibility to broaden their business and change the menu a little bit,” Adamson told NPR. And though many are still dedicated to the Weight Watchers diet, the phrase itself is antiquated; Adamson says that consumers are more interested in “wellness” than they are “weight-watching.”   

Whether or not the new direction proves successful for Dunkin’ and WW remains to be seen. But Adamson says the press, even if it’s negative, can only be helpful. “We’re sitting here talking about Weight Watchers, WW, and Dunkin’ and we might not have been had this not been a decision these companies took,” he says.

Why You Should Wean Yourself Off Business Buzzwords

According to business writer and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, there are no strong or useful business buzzwords. “Business jargon is pretty much meaningless,” she says. “I mean, ‘shifting paradigm’ — really?”

Welch says that these buzzwords stand in the way of honest, respectful communication in the workplace. For example, by using the word “bandwidth” in the context of shooting down a colleague’s pitch — as in “That’s a great idea, but we just don’t have the bandwidth for it right now” — that colleague will never know why their idea was rejected. It “glosses over your real reason for saying ‘no,’” she says.

At first, cutting out buzzwords may force actual confrontations to occur. But the quicker any disagreements get dealt with, the more productive your workplace will become. “Fight like crazy to banish them from your vocabulary, and you might be surprised how truly empowered you become,” says Welch.

Different Social Media Platforms Require Different Brand Voices

Settling on a unified voice and message for your company can be a cathartic moment, the product of many hours of hard work and research. The next step, though, is knowing how to tweak this voice across the various social media platforms to accommodate your diverse range of stakeholders.

Elly Belle — a freelance social media manager and engagement strategist — believes that a company’s Facebook content should be “punchy,” “human” and devoid of jargon. “You want to work to catch someone’s eye as they scroll through their feed at the end of the day,” she says. For Instagram, Belle recommends a “classic marketing tone”; she says the platform is primarily known as a place for B2C products and B2B cultures, and it’s helpful for brands to tap into this.
Belle says the most beguiling platform for companies is Twitter. Because the Twitter experience is based around witty, timely nuggets of content, brands often struggle with finding the right tone. However, if you have “something valuable to add to a conversation or something funny and uplifting [to say],” it can help expand your reach.

Do Humble Leaders Create Better Results?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the ripple effect of leaders who demonstrate humility. Humble leaders inspire teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams.

Based on a study of 105 computer firms published in the Journal of Management, companies with humble CEOs are more likely to have upper-management teams that work smoothly together, help each other and share decision-making.

In early 2019, Hogan Assessments, a company that creates workplace personality tests, plans to introduce a scale to measure humility in candidates for leadership posts. The test will ask whether subjects agree with statements such as, “I appreciate other people’s advice at work.”

These developments challenge the notion that “leaders should be charismatic, attention-seeking and persuasive,” writes the Journal. Says Ryne Sherman, chief science officer for Hogan Assessments, leaders with little humility “tend to ruin their companies because they take on more than they can handle.”


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