Orbell Communications

Communicating Your Message

The word ‘solution’ is not the solution

Posted by jorbell on June 14, 2009

There is a marketing and advertising word that has always irked me though maybe not enough to really annoy me. You could argue that ‘irk’ and ‘annoy’ are the same thing but they’re not really. Irk is a roll of the eyes word while annoy is on page one of the book of anger.

The marketing and advertising word to which I am referring is ‘solution’. One definition to the word reads: “The act or process of explaining or proposing an approach to solving a problem”.

Why does it bother me so? Well, it’s such a darn cliché – if a company is offering a service that solves a problem then that’s a solution I agree but surely the same tired old word doesn’t have to be used every time. I recently read that the English language has welcomed it’s one millionth word to the dictionary so I would like to think that there are at least two or three alternatives for the half-decent marketer or copywriter.

Solution is such a 1990s word in a business sense and is simply a lazy/posh way of saying “we can do stuff for you”. What makes it more galling is that the companies that advertise their ‘solution’ actually rarely solve all that much – it’s not even used in the right context half the time. If you run a company that provides office cleaning then that’s a service, not a solution so don’t describe yourself as something you’re not.

The satirical magazine, Private Eye, has even dedicated a section in its fortnightly pages to the use of the word solutions. One example was to poke fun at the description of a cardboard box as “Christmas Ornament Storage Solutions”. To be fair, you are never going to sell a product like that by promoting it as a simple cardboard box but please be sensible about it. Tell me about its benefits, not that you’ve been banned from the Plain English Campaign.

This entry listed on alphainventions.com


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