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Buzz words here, there, and everywhere! Some think they make us sound smart. Others think they are overused and really mean nothing. Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, buzzwords are a reality that are here to stay though the meaning of them may change over time.

Having worked with businesses from all sectors and nonprofits in developing their brand, re-branding, or expanding their brand, I hear the word “professional” an awful lot! But what does it mean?

It could mean “showing the market we are creditable” or “my business looks like everyone else” or “make me look like X (insert whatever company is getting good publicity at the time.)” But more often than not, I have found that professional usually translates to “safe and no risk–I want to blend in”…BORING!!!!

If you are boring, then no one will take an interest in you. The companies that have the strong and unique brands have them because they are doing something different from everyone else. They are claiming their space, taking ownership for who they are and what they stand for and they are inviting others to come along for the journey.

Also, professional means something different in every industry. What is “professional” in the banking industry is certainly not “professional” in the skateboard industry! Could you image a bank being taken seriously and viewed as credible if they had a skull in their logo?! Or would a skateboard company be viewed as “knowing us” if they had some safe-looking world with the American flag incorporated into it?

Professional is just another buzz word that has a common root meaning, but when applied to each company it means drastically different things.

Be open. Identify what your company stands for. Take ownership of that position and create a brand identity that gives your market a reason to want to know who you are. Oh and please stop describing your brand as “professional”, really it doesn’t give anyone a reason to care about you.

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