Grow this

I just came across a pet peeve of mine while proofing a client’s annual report.

A sentence referring to the current branding efforts of this client included the phrase, “…as well as message to consumers the scope and significance…”

Message to customers? As in, you’re messaging to them? You’re in the act of messaging?

It’s a pet peeve, yes. It’s also grammatically incorrect. Unfortunately, I can’t change it, as it’s part of the client’s “style.” So instead, I bring you this short message.

You can not message to customers. You can not effort a response. You can not leverage a better deal. And you especially can not grow your business.

Message, effort and leverage are nouns. They are things. They are not verbs. They are not actions. You can send a message to customers, but you can not message to them. You can make an effort at getting a response, but you can not effort a response. And only in very rare cases of financial law can you leverage something – otherwise, you can use your guiles to attempt to gain leverage in a deal.

Finally – you can not grow a business. It is simply something you can not DO to something. It is an action that the subject can only do to itself.

Some examples. You don’t grow corn; you plant corn, and the corn grows. You create an idea, and the idea grows into something bigger. Most importantly, you provide the necessary resources to help your business grow – but you do not grow it yourself.

I know – popular culture changes the meaning of words on a daily basis. And I’m by far no grammatical expert, perfect in every way and flawless on the literary scene. But let me have these pet peeves. They’re a lazy effort at creating user-friendly buzzwords. They are catchphrases that give the misguided appearance of business guile. They’re frightfully wrong, and they’re becoming more pronounced and bothersome. Sometimes I think I might snap. My hate for them grows every day.

Or, I should say, I grow my hate for them every day.

This was lovingly handwritten on October 21st, 2007