Why you need to stop using the word innovation right now

Innovation: an overused and ignored word

As someone who writes a plethora of technology articles (I’m genuinely infatuated with big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence…) I stumble across the word innovation or innovative multiple times a day.
 
Innovation is a late Middle English word which stems from Latin. What’s fascinating is that the term innovator, used to be a complete insult and punishment often resulted in jail time and having their ears cut off. Ouch!
 
Innovation is about introducing something new (or change something into new). Used in its precise context, it works well. But how often to companies, products or services that are described in copy or when a keynote speaker is gracing the stage or sitting opposite Kochie on whatever morning program he is on and purport themselves to be innovative when what they are doing isn’t new at all?
 
I’ll admit, it’s a great word that captures a lot of what people are trying – or think – they do.
But it gets lost in the noise and becomes invisible because it’s categorically overused.
 
The more predictable the word, the more likely someone is going to skip it. ‘Readers possess semantic and syntactic information that enables them to form expectations about upcoming words in text (Goodman, 1970).’ 

And if someone is skipping your text, they aren’t going to totally absorb your message. And if you’re trying to stay front of mind in your potential customers and clients, you want them to remember your message!

‘…when word length is matched, words that are predictable from prior text are more likely to be skipped than unpredictable words…’

Instead of innovation, try these terms:
  • significant positive change
  • new
  • different
  • unusual
  • distinctive
  • inventive
  • creative
  • reliable
  • deviation
  • advanced
  • transformation
  • forefront
  • variance
  • custom
  • new look

But it’s not enough just to use these words.

innovative words
​You must take it a step further and explain exactly why you/your product/your service are those things to connect with your audience and convince them that you are the one for them.
 
And truly, I’m not saying don’t use the word innovation, I’m saying become creative and specific when conveying your message. Put across different ways of saying what it is you actually do. Be accurate, why are you innovative? For example, list the technology you use or where you deviate from industry best practices that work. What are you doing differently from others in your field?

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