Well…if we’re going to use words, we ought to make them do something.


   “I have used these [21] words [and/or phrases],” says Dr. Frank Luntz¹, “to help more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies grow and thrive, and to aid more than two hundred elected officials in winning or keeping their jobs…


   “These are the language of America [now].”


   To discover these words, use the DOOR.




   To say that these words are trite or are overused is to miss the point here. Says Luntz, “These are the words that work and will continue to work and will continue to work [in the 21st century].” And Luntz gets big money to find out what they are.

   Here they are with only a brief observation about each drawn from a much longer explanation:

   (1)  “Imagine”  This is one of the most powerful words in the English language. This leads to 300 million different personal definitions. It’s an open, nonrestrictive command–almost an invitation.

   (2)  “Hassle-free”  Consumers should not have to think about how we buy a product (quickly), use a product (immediately), or fix a product easily. That’s already ingrained in us. Hassle-free is a top priority. Americans prefer a “hassle-free” product to a “less expensive” one by 62% to 38%.

   (3)  “Life-style”  This word, coined by Alfred Adler in 1929, is powerful because it is at the same time is self-defined and aspirational. Everyone defines and aspires to his or her own unique lifestyle. The term would be foreign to our great-grandparents, yet it is essential to understanding our more secular, individualist age.

   (4)  “Accountability”  This is a quality Americans want most from political leaders and institutions, and that they feel is lacking. Americans will no longer ride along placidly. They want to know “someone is in the saddle.”

   (5)  “Results” and the “Can-Do Spirit”  Americans want to understand the bottom line, to hear about results not just “progress.” They don’t want to hear about “difficulties,” “intricacies,” or “procedural details.” They want to “get it done.”

   (6)  “Innovation”  The corporation version of “Imagine.” This leads to products that are smaller, or lighter, or faster, or a laptop battery that will last 24 hours without causing your keyboard to melt, or a cooling fan that’s so loud it’s detracting.

   (7)  “Renew, Revitalize, Rejuvenate, Restore, Rekindle, Reinvent”  The “re” words take the best words of the past and apply them to the the present and the future. These apply to politics as well. Often it’s better to have programs and policies grounded in tradition or experience than to lauch something that’s brand-new.

   (8)  “Efficient” and “Efficiency”  Means getting more for less. By comparison, “conserve”  and “conservation” sound austere. “Fuel-efficient is one common application.

   (9)  “The Right to…”  Americans have always been committed to rights. Note that this is important not only to the political left, but the political right. Note use here: When an official says you have the “right” to health care, rather than just that you should have it, he is adding intensity to the message. As a “right,” it’s not just nice or reasonable, it’s “essential.”

   (10)  “Patient-Centered”  Much better than the late 20th century “managed care.” When a person is sick and hurting, who wants managed care? Patient-centered covers quality, affordability, choice, etc.–any umbrella term for all things related to medicine involving human beings.

    We’ll look at the rest of the words in the next post.


   ¹ Frank Luntz’s best-selling book, Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear (MFJ Books, 2007). Note that these book is seven years old, though still relevant we feel.