Is it a Unicorn? Is it Purpose? No. It’s Overwhelm. By fad terms.


In business land, there are many new terms created to reach and affect consumers and businesses. These terms are designed to be “trends”.


The terms jump into the everyday vernacular, thanks to a craftily written blog/advertising/media release pitch which gains attention.


A result? You feel slightly left behind in business if you’re NOT using the words in conversation, content, info graphics, pie charts and presentations.


One thing to know about what’s considered a “trend” is often, really just a “fad”. Soon to be eye-rolls.

  • Take the term “viral”. No longer used. Why? Viral is derived from “Virus”. Hmm, not good things last time I checked with my immune or operating systems.

  • Move over “viral”. Now we use the happy, positive term “organic”. Good-feels abound when we use the term “organic” reach. “It happened organically”, as if it sprouted extra legs and ran across the web.

  • Moving forward” is NOT used by sensible people. I’d like someone to say in a team meeting “Our next steps are to move backward…” and see if anyone notices.

Now let us dissect current business marketing fad terms. A decent hard-working Marketer and talented Copywriter will steer clear of the these termies. (just like germies..)


Unicorns are fantasy.

1. Unicorn.


I’m a small business owner. And I know a fact. Unicorns do not exist. If you are chasing that one Unicorn customer, business partner, client to make you instantly rich beyond your wildest dreams ($1 billion USD is the figure*) you will be disappointed.


Acquiring a high value customer or client and meaningful business partner takes practical steps and persistence. Business and Marketing Planning comes to mind if you are focused on achieving high value customer segments. This also includes Succession Planning, thanks to a recent reminder from Adam Carter at Carmalk Consulting.


2. Purpose.


Did you know the sole “purpose” of YOUR Brand is to get customers to know, like and trust YOUR Brand, so they see value and BUY your product or service and then YOU deliver on your Brand Promise consistently?


McDonald’s purpose is for you to buy Big Macs. Their Brand Promise is to deliver consistent, fresh fast food every time. McDonald’s purpose is for you to BUY (spend money). The same purpose as every other business (profit or not for profit) in the world.

There is no other “purpose”. What is your Brand Purpose? Sell products or services on repeat.

3. Overwhelm.


How often in your business day do you say out loud? “Gee I feel overwhelm.” Or “Hey Sally stop the overwhelm!


That’s because nobody in business uses the term “overwhelm” to describe their state of being at any given time. Slightly dramatic.


Here’s the definition from the free www.dictionary.com resource:


Overwhelm is a Verb (used with object)

  1. to overcome completely in mind or feeling: overwhelmed by remorse.

  2. to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces; destroy; crush: Roman troops were overwhelmed by barbarians.

  3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge: Lava from erupting Vesuvius overwhelmed the city of Pompeii.


So, as business owners, let us unite against the fad terms. Stand up, use common sense and correct theoretical terms. Here are my suggestions:


  • Unicorn swap for high value customer

  • Purpose swap to Brand Promise

  • Overwhelm swap to overworked/stressed/frustrated


The next time you engage any type of consultant and they use one or all three of the “fad” terms, just say “stop I don’t like it.” Then find someone who speaks and uses real terms.



Written by Nicola Duhig, a non-fad Marketer with practical Brand experience and owner of The Communication Place.


*Source: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/unicorn.asp - Unicorn is a finance term for a privately held new business valued more than $1billion USD. The term was first used in 2013 by Venture Capitalist Aileen Lee.

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 

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