Q&A: Who comes up with these terms?

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC + Guy Who Likes to Answer Questions and Question Answers

Your Brain On Drugs

How business terminology is cooked up.

My friend Nina writes…

“I’m reading this article, and I can’t help but wonder: who comes up with the names for various consumer groups, like Millennials or, as in this piece, ‘X-fluents’? How do they gain traction? I think ‘X-fluents’ is stupid. It sounds too much like ‘effluent.'”

My response…

You remember the commercials that used eggs to symbolize a brain on drugs? Well, terminology fabrication is like that, but think of some mighty big brains and a drug called “fame.”

The perps include ad agencies, consulting firms, marketing writers (Seth Godin coins a term every 5 minutes or so), self-proclaimed social media gurus, research agencies, and professors trying to get published in the Harvard Business Review. For these guys, coining a term that gets adopted by society is like recording a #1 pop song or concocting a hit cocktail recipe. Since the theory-class doesn’t actually create anything that everyday people need or use, new terminology serves as their ticket to fame and immortality,

We didn’t study Self-Promotion For Wonks in business school, but it’s a contagion that’s spreading. At least, according to us X-fluent wannabes (XFW’s).

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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