You’re Being Cliché

Odd one out
The Nonconformist

Do you hate being called cliché? Do buzzwords piss you off? Do you avoid certain discussions just because they’re cliche?

Maybe, just maybe, you even look down on people who you consider to be cliché or that uses buzzwords?

I think we all do to some extent…but why do we do it?  Is it a smart move (professionally) to avoid “clichés” or do we just do it because we find it to be embarrassing to fall into a cliché?

If you’re not using buzzwords just because you don’t want to be cliché, you’re missing the point.  The point isn’t the wording or definitions.  It’s what they actually represent. It’s the concept, or idea behind them. If you disagree with the concept behind the cliché, then that’s fine…but don’t avoid it simply because it’s cliché.

If you’re getting caught up in not looking “cliché” by avoiding buzz words, you’re probably missing opportunities.

There’s a reason that things are considered cliché.  It’s because they make sense, they’re popular and they’re widely accepted. As a professional, wouldn’t you want to tap into that?

I’ve said it many times before, but I learn a lot of my life lessons from South Park.  In the episode, “You Got F’d in the A“, Stan tries to recruit some kids to join his dance crew.  He reaches out to the goth kids for help…

Stan: Please, you guys, our whole town’s reputation is at stake! Will any of you do it?
Red Bang Goth: I’m not doin’ it. Being in a dance group is totally conformist.
Henrietta: Yeah. I’m not conforming to some dance-off regulations.
Little Goth: I’m not doin’ it either. I’m the biggest nonconformist of all.
Tall Goth: I’m such a nonconformist that I’m not going to conform with the rest of you. Okay, I’ll do it.

So, in summary… if you’re avoiding clichés just because they’re clichés, then you’re being pretty cliché.  Make your own decisions. Don’t approve, or disapprove of something simply because of it’s popularity.

Thoughts?

21 thoughts on “You’re Being Cliché

  1. Nice post, Spinks.

    I don’t have a problem with clichés, the problem occurs when people use the cliché without realizing the meaning. For me, that’s when negative conformity kicks in; furthermore, it’s why conformity has a negative connotation at times.

    People don’t view things as cliché when the outcome backs up the true nature of the statement. As with many things surrounding business today, it comes back to authenticity. If you know what you are talking about, people take notice.

    1. Right. True professionals use something because it’s valuable, regardless of it’s “cliche-ness”. To assume something is good, or bad, simply because of how popular or commonly used it is, is dumb.

      I get to make up one word a day.

  2. I agree with Scott. Solid post with a good point.

    I think a similar internal debate I fall into constantly is with my blog content being cliché. I read the 40-50 feeds in my RSS reader every day and, in any given week, I’ll read 2-3 posts that cover the same topic (social media ROI…how to be productive, not busy…etc.). Then, my mindset becomes one of “well now I shouldn’t write a post on those same subjects if _____ and _____ awesome bloggers already wrote them.”

    What I forget is that I’m one of the few in my world that thinks that way. I’m in a market (Sioux Falls) that isn’t typically saturated with all of the big-name, high-profile bloggers. Rather than discarding a subject like social media ROI as an “already been covered” subject and deciding not to write a post on it because it’s cliché, I should have the mindset of taking that concept, writing about it (because it’s not cliché to MY market) and, most importantly, finding a new angle or thought to add to the discussion.

    The point is, as Scott mentioned, clichés themselves aren’t bad. It’s the improper use of them or the lack of improvement upon them that really can be a problem.

    Good thoughts, David. As usual, way to call attention to a subject that really needs to be more openly discussed.

    1. Exactly. A thing isn’t cliche until people recognize it as being so. I realized not too long ago that if I have something to say on a topic, and I think it will be interesting, I’ll write it whether or not others have already. My blog is for me to share my experiences and lessons as they come. Have many other people had the same lessons before I did? Absolutely. Doesn’t mean that my readers won’t find it valuable.

  3. I tend to think of buzzwords sort of like that song that gets over played. You know the one. It has a great hook, catchy tune, sexy half naked guy on the video (not that I’m looking). And for all those reasons radio stations and the few channels that still play music videos play the song two or three times an hour. Every hour. Every day. Every week for three months.

    After a while it’s not that you don’t like the song anymore. It’s just that you’ve heard is so much that you start to miss the sound of other not so catchy songs with fully clothed not so good looking men on the videos. That’s right; you miss Meatloaf.

    1. hahaha… well said.

      It’s a great comparison that’s very true. I’m certainly an offender of hating on songs once they make it to the radio and everyone’s singing it in their car… but you know what, that doesn’t take away from the value of the song. To many people, it is a new song, and just because you knew about it before it became cliche, doesn’t mean anything.

      And as a marketer look at it like this. If you’re a DJ at a club, and you refuse to play anything cliche, you will probably have a very unhappy crowd.

  4. Awesome conversation going on in the comments as well as the points discussed in the post itself. Often I avoid “over” RTed or commented articles, posts, etc. simply because I want to avoid being the __th person who took too long to notice something of value. “Everybody’s doing it” shouldn’t be an excuse not to, they’re doing it for a reason. Say no to drugs.

    1. drugs are bad mmmmkay.

      Two south park quotes too much?

      I think everyone has the tendency to avoid looking like a sheep…but it happens anyway. Sometimes even the wolves dress like sheep on purpose. ^_^

  5. Great post. Last year, I stumbled across a online store selling prints of a British War Propaganda poster and promptly purchased one. Little did I know that “Keep Calm and Carry On” would take off and now show up as a rug in the CB2 catalog.

    When it became such a popular item, I admit to being a little turned off – it had lost its novelty…and I hated that everyone who read any design blogs was likely to have seen it in the past 6 months. But your post made me realize how silly it is to dislike something just because it has “mainstreamed.” It’s no better than the hipsters who work at Urban Outfitters hating on Modest Mouse when they finally had some radio success…people like that have always gotten under my skin.

    Thanks for the reality check.

    1. Thanks Ellen. There are definitely a lot of parallels with how we treat music based on it’s popularity. It’s replacing the actual value of something. Take things (songs) at face value.

    1. exactly. If you’re going to avoid using buzzwords because they’re cliche, well I’m sure the other bloggers who are focusing on SEO for those keywords will be very pleased.

      There’s a south park quote for pretty much any situation haha.

  6. Speaking of buzzwords specifically, do you think overusing them can cause ideas to be stifled at times because we’re thinking within a particular buzzword box?

    My blog post today goes into more detail, but I’m thinking specifically of the phrase “social media.” Our clients sometimes think they know everything about social media, but could they be held back because they’re thinking X, Y and Z are part of social media, while A and B don’t always fall into the scope of SM activities but could still be a valuable part of the strategy? Does that make sense? I fear I might be too vague.

  7. The word cliche is used 32 times from the top of the article to this point (including me using it just now). Does that make it a buzzword now?

  8. This is great also i’d just like to say i think that south park and other shows like the simpsons and family guy are the greatest satirical comedy shows on television.

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