November 14, 2006


The problem with clichés is exactly the reason people like to use them: they express a popular or common thought or idea. It's a heck of a lot easier to use someone else's old, tired expression than to come up with something fresh and original. Many times, in fact, we probably don't even realize we're using them.

Here's the one that's making me crazy these days: "It's not your grandmother's (insert item here)."

This is the new way of expressing the idea that your product or service is cool, hip and up-to-date, because your grandmother obviously would not approve.

Besides the fact that this concept is pretty insulting to grandmothers, it is overused to the point of becoming meaningless.

I Googled "it's not your grandmother's" and came up with 24 pages of this popular cliché.

"It's not your grandmother's flower vase."
"It's not your grandmother's nursing home." (That's an odd one - if it's not my grandmother's nursing home, then who the heck is living there?)
"It's not your grandmother's canned salmon." (Wha. . .?)
"It's not your grandmother's website."
"It's not your grandmother's — or even your mother's — menopause anymore." (Take that, mother and grandmother - I don't want your old-fashioned menopause anyway!)
And the one that I've come across way too often in the indie design world, in my other life as a jewelry artist: "It's not your grandmother's knitting/crochet/craft fair."

Why don't people see that this overuse of clichés makes their writing, speaking, and marketing dull, boring, and lifeless? When I see this kind of laziness, I want to run the other way. If you choose to use unoriginal and uninteresting clichés to market yourself or your business, I imagine that your business must be pretty unoriginal, too.

The fact that you tell me "it's not your grandmother's used car lot" completely contradicts your intention! Why would a cool, hip, up-to-date company use clichés, unless they really were not cool, hip or up-to-date?

Here's my gift to you today: Cliché Finder. Now go have a ball!

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

What a a timely entry--The other day I was surfing the 'net and came across a site that used that phrase. I had a bad reaction to it--as in "how boring". I didn't think very highly of the site who was using it because it seemed like all they did was lift it from someone else. So unoriginal! I mean, I immediately got what they were trying to say, but wished they had come up with an original way of saying it.

Anonymous said...

Sooo overused! And my grandmother happens to be very hip thank you very much!

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