The easiest way to say something is not always the best way to create a unique brand identity, and many marketers are making this mistake.

LinkedIn says buzzwords are killing your personal brand

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There are certain words marketers like to be associated with – Success, results, creativity – but these terms might be hurting their efforts to stand out, according to LinkedIn’s year-end profile round-up. When using these words in social media marketing, individuals and companies actually put themselves right in line with the mass majority.

LinkedIn’s Christine Choi challenged marketing professionals to relinquish these buzzwords and replace them with terms that more accurately (and originally) describe what they do. It’s equally important to apply this approach to overall branding efforts to set companies apart from the competition – Not mirror it.

 Specifically, the LinkedIn study revealed professionals overuse these words in their social media profiles:

  •  Responsible
  •  Strategic
  •  Creative
  •  Effective
  • Patient 

Marketers should do a to quick check to see if “responsible” is one of the adjectives they use to describe themselves, because it’s used twice as much as any other popular term on the list, and it’s unlikely to give their personal brands an edge. Reliability is of the utmost importance to both employers and customers, but they should look for a synonym that demonstrates the trait more accurately. Perhaps it speaks to responsiveness, providing measurable results or being extremely dependable.

Likewise, marketers must be careful about leaning on buzzwords to describe their brands, online and off, in order to establish a distinct identity. Improving awareness is one of the top three marketing goals B2Bs have set for 2014, according to Web Marketing 123’s State of Digital Marketing report, and it’s an even higher priority for B2Cs. Companies might find they aren’t becoming recognizable industry leaders if customers and prospects associate them with the same value props as competitors.

With the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time to sit down and evaluate how brands represent themselves across social networks and online in general. If they find their messages are not far from competitors, marketers must get creative and find better ways to discuss their companies.

Lauren Kaye
Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.


  • Robert Lewis

    I think some folks are wary of brands who use these “buzzwords” because they’ve heard/seen the words used so often that they lose their meaning altogether and just become “noise” that nobody really pays attention to. It’s like each company is following a script of how to market to consumers, so consumers want to see a more diverse use of language that stands out and actually gets noticed–substituting “responsible” for “responsive,” for instance.

    • Lauren Kaye

      Hi Robert!

      Thanks for your comments here! I agree that brands, and marketers in particular, tend to cling to buzzwords to insert themselves in conversations and feel relevant.

      However, this can actually have the reverse effect if it starts to feel like companies are using ‘the lingo’ and it’s not as precise or accurate as it could be. It’s easy to fall into this trap, but worth it to keep language and brand messages.

      Thanks again!

  • SandraPickering

    Whilst the suggestion to describe yourself distincitvely is good advice, there appears to be a misunderstanding by LinkedIn of how the word ‘responsible’ is being used.
    Some 25% of my LinkedIn connections use ‘responsible’ in their profile. None is using it as a descriptor of themself. Instead, it is being used to describe the responsibilities of jobs they have done – for example, “responsible for brand X across Europe….”

    • Lauren Kaye

      Hi SandraPickering,

      Thank you for taking to time to read and leave your feedback! I think you make very valuable points. I agree that in the context of LinkedIn profiles, professionals are using the term to describe their job duties.

      To me, it seemed the report suggested marketers need to get as creative with their own profiles as they intend to be with important projects. I thought this was poignant because, in certain cases, there may be better/fresher/more creative ways to explain past experiences that help them stand out from the crowd.

      With that said, i certainly need to give my LinkedIn profile some attention because I am guilty of this, too.

      Thank you again!

      • SandraPickering

        Thanks for taking time to respond, Lauren.
        You are spot on with comments about creative ways to stand out – and your post has prompted me to review my own LinkedIn profile. It does need a refresh so thanks for the prompt!