Words matter. Exhibit A: The “fiscal cliff”

Most readers of this blog need no convincing when it comes to the importance of the words we use to name and describe products, companies, and issues.  We spend significant hours and budgets thinking about the most compelling, resonant language with which to describe our offerings.

The individuals and institutions that run our country apparently need a reminder of this, in the case of the “fiscal cliff”.  As we sit here in mid-November 2012, the looming fiscal cliff dominates the headlines.  Congress and the President are attempting to find a compromise in order to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that would take the country “over the fiscal cliff”.  The fear is that if we go over the cliff, the country could enter another recession.  If the goal is to avoid recession, where consumer confidence and spending contract, why do we keep calling it a “fiscal cliff”?  Even if lawmakers are successful and reach a compromise, the anxiety created by weeks of constant media attention to the “fiscal cliff” will negatively impact the economy.  It is a serious issue and decisions need to be made, but can’t we call it something less scary?  Even the “fiscal slope” would be better.

For the marketing community, let’s use this as a good reminder that the words we use to name, position, and sell our products do matter.