It would be difficult to list out specific words to avoid when writing a brand promise. A word that is overused in one industry might be a fresh take in another. A great word today could be carrying a ton of baggage tomorrow. Instead of focusing on the words themselves, let’s take a look at the kinds of words you should avoid when writing a brand promise.

Generalizations. These are words or phrases that might sound perfectly at home in a brand promise but don’t really say anything. “Outstanding customer service.” Okay? What does that mean? How many other businesses would make the same claim? If you guessed all of them, you’d be right. What about your customer service makes you different? What are the things your employees would be proud to do well? Those are the things that will set you apart.

Me. Me. Me. It’s good to have pride in what you do, but make sure why you do it is clearly stated. A brand promise isn’t a list of impressive achievements or awesome things your business can do. A brand promise should tell people how you can help improve their lives. It should tell your employees how they can help improve the lives of others. Talk about how you see your business’s place in the world. It’s ok to get a little philosophical as long as it comes back to what it means to your customers.

Poetic Prose. I’m a writer. I love words, but you need to know when to say when. There is power in the written word. Choose the right ones, and you won’t need a lot of fluff around them. Keep the thesaurus closed and the language simple. Not only will your brand promise be clearer, it will be more genuine as well.

Embellishments. Aspirational good. Over promise not so good. A brand promise is meant to inspire both your external audience as well as your internal audience, so it’s fine to be bold and visionary. Just make sure you are being realistic. Most people understand striving to be better, but they won’t appreciate it if they feel deceived. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to say, “Hey, we’re not there yet, but this is where we’re headed.”

Learn about JPL’s brand methodology.