Stop Saying That! Go from Brand-Talk to Real-Talk

I got an email recently from one of my favorite retailers—as I do every damn day—and thought the subject header was a little odd. ‘Our new dress silos = your new dresses.‘ Silos? What are dress silos? Is this a tall barn to store the dresses before we buy them? Is corn or wheat involved? Cows?

First, the words Dress and Barn should never come to mind in retail marketing unless you are actually Dress Barn and I don’t think that’s what this retailer intended. Second, what this sounds like is what we hear often in scripts and ‘talking points’ that come from brand managers and account reps. The dreaded Brand Buzz Words.

I can imagine it now. The first document came from the Brand Manager—she said to her people: ‘Yeay! Look at all the new Dress Silos we are bringing in this year! We’ve got fitted dresses, shirt dresses, swing dresses! So many styles!’ They bring that document to their people and it gets sent down the chain into marketing and the person crafting the messaging to the masses sees ‘Dress Silos: Fitted, Shirt, Swing…’ Ok! I’ll share the silos with the world. And now we’ve got silos and I’m thinking Dress Barn.


It seems obvious, but when sharing the awesome things about your brand or company, you’ve got to remember how regular folks in the world speak. They don’t understand your internal jargon, or care about your super long, scientific descriptors of the thing your product is made with or how it was made—they only want to know one thing: what does this mean to me?  A good rule of thumb for real-talk messaging is that for almost every product you are selling, you should be able to chat about the thing to a total stranger in a conversational way that applies to their life and yours.

What would have been better than ‘dress silos’? Let’s hear some suggestions…