Sure, you’re innovative. But if you’re so innovative, why are you still using the word “innovative?” All of its power has been taken by motivational posters and About Us pages. “Innovative” no longer means “creating new and different things.” It means “we needed another word to go here between ‘experienced’ and ‘best-in-market.’”
This doesn’t mean these words don’t work, or that you don’t mean them, or that they’re inaccurate descriptions. It just means that there are a lot of companies using only a little bit of the English language. So let’s find some new ones that can replace the stale wording that’s out there.
Inventive: If you’re scared to try something very bold here, then “inventive” is your friend. It’s just like “innovative,” and will probably become as frequently used in a couple of years. For now, it’s just innovative’s silent cousin, waiting in the next room. It differentiates itself by conjuring images of inventions; mechanical parts strewn about a mad scientist’s laboratory, or a multifarious machine coming to life. This is certainly more lively than anything “innovative” has done in the last half-decade.
Unconventional: This one is fun because of its negative connotation when used by uptight people. Are you muttering to your middle-aged co-workers about the new girl in accounting having a face tattoo? “Unconventional” is the word you’re looking to mutter while smiling condescendingly. It just means “not what I’m used to,” which is the whole point. Steal this word from rigid parents staring worriedly out the window at their teenager’s blue-haired friends and make it about what your plans are for the tech sector. It becomes much, much cooler.
Newfangled: Here’s my personal favorite, if only because it’s just sitting out there right now being largely avoided. It’s too goofy, too unwieldy; like a pioneer describing the first time they saw a velocipede. But if you take ownership of “newfangled,” you’re getting some wild syllables to spice up a sentence, bridging the gap between throwback terms and modern services. It’s almost got steampunk vibes. Plus, it’s just fun to say:
“Some companies like doing things the old way. We take a newfangled approach to home installation.”
Accomplished: Oh, are you experienced? You’ve had experiences? Neat. So has literally everyone else. But accomplishments? Not everybody’s got those. But you do, because your company is productive and personable and passionate about app creation, or whatever. That has translated into award-winning service or industry-leading products. So when you say you’ve had experiences, give us a little more of an idea of what those might be, and why not do a little bit of bragging? You’ve clearly earned it.
Seasoned: You’ve been around long enough that it’d be impossible for you to be anything but the best. You can stand on the hilltop and nod sagely at the sunset because you are a veteran of the industry with even more brilliant advances in front of you. No one will ever have to wonder if you know what you’re doing, or if you’re doing it well. You’ve got the wisdom of time on your side, and you’re using it to get even better.
Sophisticated: Oooh, okay. You’re fancy. Selective. Aware. Some companies come in hot, throwing around language they don’t even really understand; they just picked up some new lingo while eavesdropping on their kids. But “sophisticated” means you spend five-dollar words as easily as you spend one-dollar ones, and if we apply that same philosophy to your business, it means you’ve built a resume that allows you to see the full spectrum of the industry you’re in, and you’ve chosen to exist on the more refined end.
Visionary: We stop at “visionary” when we want to create the allure of mystic clairvoyance without literally claiming we are capable of it. And that’s good. That’s why we have different words for things. “Creative” means you won a few writing awards as a kid. Visionary means your creativity is channeled through an ability to read the market and understand how your creativity can be used in the future.
Ambitious: We’re teetering on the verge of uninspired here, but ambitious works because of the implied action: Ambition means hustling, bustling, and catching the early train. Ambition is a natural motivator; we can talk about why you have it and where it comes from, and most importantly, how you use it to scuttle over, circumnavigate, or blast through the obstacles that everyone else is facing.
Original: Your business does new things in new ways. You find new paths on which to make progress. Your competition is out here saying they change things, but you’re not, because you’re too busy actually changing them. They may imitate you, they may even steal from you, but you are a good-idea machine that runs on boundless imagination. Go ahead, let them have that idea. You’ll always have another.
Perceptive: Fun fact, “focused” doesn’t actually get any stronger when you put “laser” in front of it. It just sounds like you’re trying to be futuristic in the eighties. Instead, we can say “perceptive,” as nothing slips by you. You find value in the margins. You know how to read the market. And you pick up on context clues that let you know what your customers want before they do. Perception is focus infused with strategy and purpose, so the word you’re not using is inferred by the one you are.
Fixated: Feels a little strange, sure; like the quiet kid in the neighborhood staring out a third-floor window at his classmates again before committing his third-act atrocities. But we can’t let horror movie villains have this one. Fixation can be a healthy obsession; the kind of intense focus a customer would want their business to have. We are fixated on your success.
Discerning: You know a lot, but better yet, you know what works and what doesn’t. You know exactly how to not waste your time, or anyone else’s. Because you have more than focus: You have the knowledge to realize what’s of use. It’s the difference between knowing the alphabet and knowing how to spell.
Unanimous: No, no, no; you’re not the board of a sinister company voting to tear down a local playground and build a chemical plant in its place! But you are a group of hard-working and intelligent individuals that, when combined, create an impactful whole. Your unanimity is an indication of your shared collective goals and desire to achieve them. You listen to your customers and you go forward only one way: Together.
Synchronized: Machines! We like them, apparently. We’re always talking about how well-oiled they are or how many moving parts they have. But we can be talking about a machine without using cliches. By throwing “synchronized” in there, you’re evoking images of gears and wheels, lights and sounds, all turning together in a fluid motion. Or maybe a team of swimmers, cutting seamlessly through the water in a performance of multifaceted elegance. It creates the same meaning with more colorful imagery.
Concentrated: Even a small amount of energy, when packed into a tight space, can produce a powerful impact. But working together is the only way to achieve that result. Think of five fingers bending into a fist. Maybe you don’t throw a knock-out punch this time. But together, you’re confident, aggressive, and powerful enough to take your best shot.
Unyielding: For all the worry about negative connotations, I am amazed at how much play “relentless” gets. “Relentless” is a starved wolf tracking you through the forest; a fanged horror that does not know how to operate on anything but instinct. Something like “unyielding” is more stately and chivalrous: We, a business, are here for you, the customer, and we will never back down in our pursuit of… well, you get it.
Rigorous: This one feels a bit alarming too, but only because it’s something you don’t want your rival to be. Rigorous is all about forward momentum, ceaseless effort, and intense exactitude. Your business starts with a wide view of a problem and then plummets toward it, the work fitting into a narrower and narrower space until the process concludes and you finish with a solution that fits exactly what the ask was.
Resolute: Resolute does not mean for you to be on the attack or falling from a great height; but rather, that you are ever-present, watchful, and maybe even omniscient. You are not stubborn, but you are aware: Aware of the market, aware of common tasks, aware of how your business works and the strengths of your individual team members. And that makes you confident enough to stay standing, absorbing every request and difficulty, until the job is done.
You know how distinct, authentic, and pioneering your business is. Why don’t you give it the language it deserves? Words mean things! Always have, always will. With such a big, beautiful lexicon available to us in marketing, you can look to the left or right of the term you want to use and potentially find a better and more accurate one! That is, if you have a good enough copywriter (👋).