Ever eaten poutine? In case you didn’t know, it’s a dish from Québec: a heady mix of French fries, gravy and curd cheese. And apparently it’s going to be absolutely massive in 2015. (As will we, presumably, if we eat too much of it.)
We’ve been doing a bit of trend forecasting of our own here at The Writer. But instead of spotting food crazes, we’ve been looking at business language. What new lingo can we expect to hear in meeting rooms up and down the UK this year?
Here are the ones we think will be big in 2015. Interestingly, all of them relate in some way to brand or marketing. Which either suggests that brand and marketing are the big themes in business writing at the moment, or that brand and marketing people are the cool kids who come up with the new words everyone else copies. Or maybe a bit of both.
(We’re not saying these words are good or bad, by the way – that’s a whole other article. We’re just letting you know they’re on the rise. Think of it as a public service.)
Drum roll, please…
‘-jack’ Is The New ‘Hack’
For the last couple of years, ‘hack’ has been everywhere. For example, if you read about how to use the inside of a loo roll as a makeshift iPhone speaker, it’s no longer a ‘tip’, it’s a ‘lifehack’. And it’s been co-opted by business, too, in phrases like ‘brand hack’.
We reckon the suffix ‘-jack’ (as in ‘hijack’) will make the same leap into the mainstream in 2015. It’s already spawned ‘newsjacking’ (brands taking advantage of a news story to get their message across) and ‘brandjacking’ (subverting a marketing or political campaign for other ends), as well as ‘trendjacking’, ‘clickjacking’, and even ‘crisisjacking’.
It’s also another example of how the business world takes words with negative connotations and turns them into positives (like ‘hack’, or ‘disruptive’) – maybe because negative words have a bit of an edge to them, which appeals to corporate thrill-seekers.
It’s All About The ‘It Factor’
Businesses are always trying to pinpoint what makes them new, or different, or interesting. In the past it’s been called the ‘secret ingredient’, ‘the special sauce’ and, of course, ‘the X factor’. The irony is that it’s not very new, or different, or interesting to keep describing it the same way.
We’ve already seen ‘it factor’ used last year to describe personal charisma, or exceptionally talented sportspeople. But now it’s starting to appear in more of a work context: as a description of what makes for a successful start-up, for example, or someone with great presence in meetings. We reckon it won’t be long until businesses are using it to talk about their products and strategies, too.
Our team in New York also spotted some new phrases emerging in the US, which we’ll probably see on these shores soon…
Move Over B2B And B2C, Here’s H2H
In their quest to be more ‘customer-centric’, all kinds of businesses – from professional services firms to tech companies – are recognising that when they communicate with customers, they’re speaking to people. And if they’re going to connect with those people, they need to sound more like human beings themselves.
Enter human-to-human, or ‘H2H’ – a clear signal that the distinction between business-to-business and business-to-consumer communication will soon become obsolete.
A Little More Conversation
‘Content’ is still all the rage in the marketing world. But it’s been around for about a year, so we reckon its days are already numbered. Instead, the focus in 2015 is going to shift to ‘conversation marketing’.
Don’t get us wrong – the idea behind content marketing (giving people useful information they actually want) is great. But it does run the risk of being just as one-sided as traditional marketing. The trick is having a strategy to help you start and manage conversations with your audience, especially on social media.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘It factor? H2H? Nah, that’ll never catch on.’ I remember being similarly nonplussed by words like ‘feedback’ and ‘share’ about ten years ago, and now we’re chucking them around like there’s no tomorrow. These things have a habit of sneaking up on you.
All the same, there are fads with business language just as with any other sort of slang. Today’s ‘it factor’ could be tomorrow’s ‘low-hanging fruit’. So let’s see which of these – if any – stick around longer than a year or two, and which ones immediately die a horrible death.
Time will tell. Now, pass me that plate of poutine.