A good test for Genericolicism is to remove your name or logo from a piece of communication material (websites are particularly good places to start) and replace it with a competitors and see if you notice the difference.
It was after a quick scoot around online and reviewing others web content that it became clear to me that Genericolicism was widespread and I was in fact part of an epidemic. Corporate website and marketing material was awash with.
“an extensive range of strategies and solutions to unnamed problems covering every market sector. Putting the customer first and leveraging untold levels of expertise in whatever subject matter might interest you… your problem our solution… in partnership together”
Here’s a real one “We can help you to seamlessly integrate data to inform business decisions and actions in ways that allow your team to respond faster to evolving business priorities. We can advise you how to innovate using data and analytics, how to drive excellence in operations, and how to deliver modern data & analytics platforms.” … that’s IBM
Generic content isn’t a bad thing (thank god… as I seem to earn living creating it) and it is often an essential framing element to any communications. A story needs context and its relevance and usefulness needs to be easily decoded by the audience. What makes something different however, can be quite subtle and is easily choked by the contextual stuff and the so-what.
Whether you are on your way to becoming Genericolic or like me you have the full blown disease here are 4 things you should consider doing.
- Admit you are sufferer – only then can you truly separate out the Generic content from the Heroic stuff
- Don’t go cold turkey – Generic copy is not bad… it’s just not the story, not even the glue… it’s just a framework. Yes… build your framework but save your creativity for what makes your story different and useful to others.
- Apply the test for Genericolicism to every piece of work you do.
- Join the mailing list – there is strength in numbers and there’s always relief to be had when you learn about others that are suffering more than you.
As a sufferer it’s not all bad news. There maybe no cure and you may just have to accept that on occasions your prolific skill to spout marketing fluff will be leveraged across multiple communications platforms… oh shit, but like all good addictions you will be able to spot yours and the Generocism of others a mile off and it could be just that which sets you apart when you’re next presenting your ideas or life’s work to a prospective client or employer.