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Strategy, Creativity

New Words, New Ideas

POSTED ON: 04/26/16 Creative Retail Marketing

I fell in love in the cafetorium.

Not with the kid with the wonky bangs across the table, taunting me with crust-free PB&J (although I’ve always found lopsidedness oddly attractive). With that word.

Cafetorium.

Sometimes a cafeteria, other times an auditorium, but always a florescent-light-bathed space glowing with the promise of deliciousness. (I was eight. Tator Tots and an Up With People touring company were ultimate entertainment experiences.)

Even then I recognized the power of the made-up mega-word. Crush two words together and – Bam! – you’ve created an entirely new destination, a new distinction or a new experience. All it takes is a hyphen. Or not even. Sometimes new words are forged by sheer will and fortitude. It was Big Idea.

(Note that I am not talking about buzzwords. They are very bad.)

As it is with most far-casters (nice, right?), my vision was met with some skepticism. Some of my childhood attempts to become a hyphen-wielding word-meister lacked finesse. No one cared to be a tetherballer. I couldn’t make carrot-tastic happen. And no one jumped on see-saw-sensei (literally or figuratively).

I was clearly ahead of my time. But my penchant for language mash-up would be fulfilled. I would find my meta-voice. I would discover my digi-community.

And I did, in the verbally flexible world of retail marketing. I wrote infomercials, created retailtainment programs, stared down the co-opetition, developed a point of view that was decidedly shopper-centric, and generally just explored with my retailtribe. (OK. That last one is not good.) I also learned that new words drive new ideas – and vice-versa.

The years have passed, and I have found my people – the digerati, the Twitterazzi, the onmichannel stylemakers. Heck, I can even feel a little warm and fuzzy towards those unfortunate recession-istas. I share all of this with you now because the retail marketing industry has never seen a period of greater change. Our words will change as well. That should be our inspiration.

Believe me when I say that language is to be respected; words should be used with great care. But the way we communicate isn’t static. How we express ourselves is a reflection of our time, our attitude and our contexts. Word-ocity (wordsmithiness + velocity. I just made that up; feel free to use it.) describes a propensity to blend playfulness with precision. The resulting hyphenates and duo-words are descriptive, sometimes silly and everything new language should be.

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