Every now and then a word gets into my bad books.
At the moment, it’s ‘benefits’.
This is a shame, because it’s not such a bad word and originally meant a kind deed or something well done. Then one day people like me got hold of it. Copywriters grabbed it, bundled it together with ‘features’ and tossed both into copy for brochures, press releases and other marketing and PR materials.
The kind, friendly element was drowned by the dressing to ensure the ‘you must buy it because it’ll be so good for you’ message always got through. “Forget features, sell the benefits,” people say.
The more I look at the original meaning, the more I like the word. Perhaps what I don’t like is the approach to marketing that reduces everything to a formula, which when applied automatically tends to fall flat. (Thinks back to weigh up own guilt.)
Another use of the word, to describe state social security payments, hasn’t helped either. With a stronger attachment to the failure of government systems rather than the relief given to genuine claimants, the poor word doesn’t stand a chance.
Now I regret it being in my bad books. I want to like benefits again and restore its benign impact, but this means working harder to find better ways of talking about features and _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .