Our Creative Director’s View On jargon

Over the years the creative industry has seen its fair share of jargon … but what does it all mean?

In my formative years as a designer, I was often baffled by the use of jargon by either clients or superiors, so much so that I thought there was something that I was missing or that there was an elite cult that passed these secret meanings down from generation to generation (so mellow dramatic, right?!). It was only later I realised in most instances (I’m not saying all) jargon was used to hide the lack of actual, tangible feedback.

Then, of course, there was more supplementary jargon that made complete sense. Why was that? My spider senses started tingling, so I started analysing a couple of cases.

The most popular term that clients like using is ‘make it pop’. Out of context, this is an extremely vague form of feedback, especially when referring to an entire piece of communication.

What I have found is that generally, people say a myriad of cliché things when there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the communication. And because people find it quite difficult to articulate what they mean, they default to a ‘catch all’ term that could mean one of 10 different things.

Jargon can also be used very effectively to communicate a concept and execute that concept. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ – I feel that it’s our responsibility not only to guide, but to educate our clients through the creative process. Creatives tend to use a lot of jargon in their everyday lives, and I’ve noticed that it can be intimidating to clients (just as intimidated as I was when I simply didn’t understand).

The fact that one element on a piece of communication can send an entire layout ‘back to the drawing board’ clearly shows me there’s a lack of clear, concise communication. As a creative agency, we need to be just as good at selling an idea to our clients as we profess to do in the marketplace.

I am not saying stop using jargon altogether, I am saying be selective about the jargon you use, especially when speaking to another creative in a client meeting. We assume clients are accustomed to ‘the lingo’ but in most cases, they aren’t.

Plain English goes a long way in understanding what’s actually needed and getting to the final product a lot quicker.