Wordy Wednesday: solutions (vs. Eddie Stobart)
Some people, like Billy Connolly and Dave Allen, are great storytellers, able to keep you enthralled and entertained through the most unlikely of shaggy dog stories.
Others could be giving you the solutions to the Kennedy assassination and the death of Princess Di and all you’d hear would be ‘Blah, blah, Kennedy, blah de blah, blah Princess Di blah blah…’
The words we choose can either draw people in or make them tune out. And some words, or combinations of words, are like black holes, reflecting nothing at all back at the reader or listener. ‘Solutions’ has become one of these.
If you’re thinking, “What’s in a name?” (like Juliet, in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’), I’ll give you an example. Take Transport Solutions, the first name on the list above. (Click through to their website, by the way, and you’ll be met with their yawn-inducing mission statement, “To exceed our customers’ expectations in the transfer of their goods and documents around the world.” I suppose they at least got the apostrophe in the right place.)
Now think about the UK’s most popular haulage company, Eddie Stobart. Over the past twenty years Eddie Stobart, with its distinctive green and red liveried trucks, emblazoned with the name in bold white type, has garnered a cult following among children, drivers and graphic designers. There’s even a fan club, the Stobart Saddos, which has more than 25,000 members, each dedicated to spotting as many of the trucks as possible: something the company, in a brilliant marketing ploy, encouraged by giving each truck a different woman’s name.
Can’t see that happening with ‘Transport Solutions’…
Anglia Cleaning Solutions
Cleaning Solutions Anglia
Evolved Media Solutions
Transport & Storage
Solutions Estate Agents
Sims Recycling Solutions
Much of the praise for the new GOV.UK site (described by Design Museum Deyan Sudjic as ‘the Paul Smith of websites’) is down to its compelling way with words, which includes steering clear of words like solutions. Instead they make things simpler, clearer and faster for those looking for government services and information, making life better for millions of people coping with everyday chores from getting a new passport to paying their taxes. (Like its words, the site’s design, which is pared-down and easy to follow, is a model of clarity.)
*A solution is:
1 a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation : there are no easy solutions to financial and marital problems.
• the correct answer to a puzzle : the solution to this month’s crossword.
2 a liquid mixture in which the minor component (the solute) is uniformly distributed within the major component (the solvent).
• the process or state of being dissolved in a solvent.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, from Latin solutio(n-), from solvere ‘loosen’ (see solve ).
My advice to marketers? For the moment I’d steer clear of ‘solutions’, unless, that is, you’re selling Cif.
- April Jones to have Eddie Stobart lorry named after her (mirror.co.uk)