In reviewing about a dozen web sites, collateral and sales material, I couldn't find one competitor (to this client) that didn't describe its business in either of one the following three ways:
1) a full-service solutions provider
2) cost-effective, end-to-end solutions
3) a provider of value added services
It made me think blah, blah, blah... because it doesn't just sound the same. It is the same.
I decided to have some fun and did a quick Google search on these phrases. Get this: 47,000 companies use full-service solutions provider to describe themselves. Cost-effective, end-to-end solutions had 95,000 results. But, the big winner is clearly a provider of value added services with over 600,000 matches.
I know... that is just crazy. What does it say when hundreds of thousands of companies are describing their core business differentiators as the same? My belief is that it means our society really has issues with trying to be original. Instead, like sheep mindlessly following the flock, most companies (or those who run them) feel safe, secure or some measure of comfort using messages that have been widely accepted versus taking risks by creating new and untried phrases to separate themselves and their products.
There is a catch (however). These phrases aren't really accepted. Instead, they're simply ignored, kind of like the way the same dull wallpaper or paint in a house just isn't noticed anymore. We've been walking past it and not really noticing the pattern or colors for so long, that it's just easily forgettable.
The reality is that if you care about your company and/or product, then you should care just as much about how you describe it. In almost every case, a company makes its first impression with all audiences through words. Sure, a creative and sophisticated design will catch someone's attention, but words and the stories that utilize them, really make the most bottom line impact.
Think about this the next time you're three seconds away from approving the same, commoditized messages for your web site or press release boiler plate. Today's overused buzz words just take up space on a page. But, companies with a personality and a point of view want to communicate something different. They have a story to tell and they find a way to communicate it effectively by using words which are written to be read.