Living without the B-word: review time

Posted by on Feb 15, 2009 in Uncategorized | 9 Comments


Ok, it's time to talk about what it was like not using the B-word in the month of January….

So if you took part in our little game, please let the rest of us know how you got on, what it felt like, how others responded to you and what else you learned from the exercise….

I for one found it much harder than I thought I would…

Looking forward to hearing from you


  1. Charles
    February 15, 2009

    There is no way to completely refrain from using the word but the point of the exercise (I hoped) was to encourage clarity which I think is helped by keeping the use to a minimum.
    What I found interesting was that its most needed context is when wishing not to confuse less marketing literate people with the words product or service.
    However I even used it in a blog post title and felt so bad afterwards that I confessed and the priest asked me to say a couple of Hail Marys and it would be OK 😉
    OK just kidding but it was an interesting exercise.

  2. packtdavidb
    February 15, 2009

    The only time I felt myself reaching for the b-word was when defending a policy that I couldn’t really justify: “we’re not changing it, it’s part of our b—-“.
    Confirms to me that like most jargon, the word exists to obscure meaning and avoid direct discussion, rather than to enable it.

  3. Dan Thornton
    February 15, 2009

    I actually didn’t find it too hard, although I kept being tempted to correct other people!
    The main thing is that it made me much clearer about what we’re trying to do – for instance, are the brand values we’re talking about referring in an instance to reputation? Tradition? Control? Belief? Purpose?
    After all, the meaning of the b**** is generally what the perception of an individual might be – not what we might want to label it as.

  4. Mark Earls
    February 15, 2009

    Thanks mate Will investigate problem
    Sent from my iPhone

  5. packtdavidb
    February 15, 2009

    Since discovered the problem was between keyboard and chair.

  6. Helge Tennø
    February 15, 2009

    Hi Mark
    Your initiative definitely started a more conscious and curious process on my part.
    I think many of the pieces it led me to gather throughout January finally came together when attending the PSFK in London, listening to Jenny Owen of Ruby Pseudo say: “Kids don’t know what brands are, they call them companies”. It kind of completed the circle :o)
    In the battle between simplifying discussions amongst equals using the learned vocabulary and trying to talk in a way that ordinary people would understand, and find worth listening to. This initiative and Owen made me understand that creating a specialist vocabulary only removes me from the people I so desperately want to understand.
    Which made me write this on resurfacing the whole vocabulary, not only one word.
    So.. finally.. Your post made me more conscious, which through a range of other peoples thoughts made me more aware of all the discussions around me and how some of them are completely detached from reality, discussing topics for the topics sake (which might be important, but not for me). And made me think again of Stephen King – admired for his way of presenting stuff that was directly understandable, and even more important, applicable.
    So, brilliant initiative Mark, I’m still working on it, but it gave me one of those precious moments of insight :o)

  7. Daria Radota Rasmussen
    February 15, 2009

    I liked the exercise a lot as it reminded me the play I had with my grandpa when I was a child – we couldn’t use 5 words for a week. His goal was to broaden my vocabulary and thinking in metaphors. Later on it kept me away from jargon, but after a few years in agency, you bite the dust and spit out the ugly words. Avoiding word brand was healthy exercise and I liked to avoid it at client or agency meetings. It could be sometimes hard and there was one day when I miserably failed and said like ten times within an hour!Most interesting was when I asked people at the meeting to avoid using the word, it kicked an interesing discussion what brand is. Good training for mind.

  8. John
    February 16, 2009

    I only used it ironically which meant I used it more often than usual.

  9. Patrick Prothe
    February 26, 2009

    It was fairly easy for the most part. I’ve been using it less and less as we come to terms with the real value (or not) in brands. Even BMW’s brand has suffered in this economy, forcing them to compete more on price.
    That said, I fell off the wagon twice at the office when explaining the ‘branding’ process and the fact we’ve embarked on a ‘rebranding’ initiative.
    But just working on not using it, made me think twice about what branding is really all about and has actually provided clarity that’s fueling where we’re going now.
    It’s been a fun game and one I’m continuing – not stamping it out altogether, but using it very judiciously.