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This article was published on May 17, 2019

Avoiding buzzwords: Eight alternatives to calling yourself ‘innovative’

Avoiding buzzwords: Eight alternatives to calling yourself ‘innovative’ Image by:
Scott Gerber
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Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at

It’s common to hear businesses describe themselves as “innovative.” Many companies strive for innovation in their products, services and marketing strategies. However, the term can be overused, resulting in a lack of impact.

There are better ways to convey that your company is constantly improving, creating and growing. To find out what works, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following:

Many startups describe themselves as “innovative,” and while that may very well be true, this buzzword can get lost in the noise. What is one word or phrase that companies should use to describe themselves instead, and why?

Here is what they said:

1. Original

I like using the word “original” because it conveys that you’re talking about a new idea. It’s a great word because it’s not trying too hard yet packs a big punch. Everyone wants to be original, not a copy. It’s the humble version of “innovative.” – Jared AtchisonWPForms

2. Revolutionary

“Innovative” is thrown around way too much today so the word has lost its meaning (to me anyway). I prefer to use “revolutionary” to describe something has never been done before and has the ability to change an industry or the way that business is done. – Kristin Kimberly MarquetFem Founder

3. Fresh

I like to call what we do a “fresh” take instead of innovative. I use the word fresh because it has a positive connotation with customers and employees. When you explain what you’re doing as fresh, you’re positioning yourself to appear as sharp, attentive and ahead of the industry curve. – Blair WilliamsMemberPress

4. Lateral Thinkers

I love the term “lateral thinking” because of its rich history and imagery. As opposed to traditional “vertical thinking,” the idea behind lateral thinking is to present solutions to problems that are far from obvious. Rule out your plan A, B and C, and get to plan X or Y. This way of thinking is certainly innovative, but it presents this concept in a less vague way. – Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

5. Proven

Anyone can claim their product is innovative, and not all innovations are worth the fuss. Conveying that your product has a proven track record of success is more likely to engage an audience interested in progress. Let them know what your product or service has done, and give them access to the data that proves it. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International

6. Disruptive

If your company wants to stand out, you can’t just be “innovative” — you have to be “disruptive.” You’ve got to bring something to the market that changes everything and shapes the culture in a whole new way. Innovative is new, but disruptive is a game-changer. – Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

7. Profound

The word “profound” insinuates that your product or service is doing something different within the marketplace, and will leave a lasting impression on your customers — without using the overused and tired term “innovative.” If you’ve truly innovated in a way that is special, this slightly understated-sounding description will get people on board while avoiding the embellished sales pitch. – Keith ShieldsDesignli

8. Big Changes

Instead of innovative, we like to use the phrase “big changes.” It is much more powerful and specific than innovative. It grabs people’s attention and helps you stay humble. The overuse of innovative denigrates those who have come with major inventions that have changed the world. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

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