A Monthly Meditation on Branding and Language
From Your Favorite Copy Shop, Editorial Emergency

#34 (November 20, 2009): Linguistic Insolvency

We land on your plate a bit earlier than usual this month because we don't want to impose on next week's antsy pre-holiday attention deficit and/or post-feast tryptophan hangover. So read on, while you're still inclined, as we go mad scientist on the overused biz term "solutions;" hail some hunger-haters; crush out on new-wave pop outfit Oh Darling; and view the latest undercooked entry from the Not Our Clients kitchen.

By the way, we're thankful for you.

Red Pen Diaries: The Solutions Problem

Image I've got a problem with solutions. Well, it's not solutions, per se, but the WORD "solutions." Actually, it's not even the word "solutions"; it's the notion that all you have to do is throw that word onto your home page and the world will beat a path to your door.

But "solutions" in this context — or, more precisely, lack of context — has little meaning; it doesn't say anything. OF COURSE you provide solutions, for a price — that's what a business is. Sadly, "solutions" has become a clichÈ, much like the use of "passion" in a cover letter.

Read the rest here.

Of Feasts and Famine

ImageMost of the people I know are fortunate enough to be worried about eating too much on Thanksgiving. So now seems an appropriate time to recall those who don't know, on any given day, if they'll be eating at all.

Fed Up With Hunger, an initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, points out that one in eight people in L.A. is hungry. Their "Blueprint to End Hunger" and other materials on the Give Life Meaning website offer ways to respond to this crisis. I salute them here not only for their admirable humanitarian work but also for the solid branding effort behind the campaign, from its memorable name to the compelling viral tools provided on the site (not to mention celebrity support from Debra Messing and the Beastie Boys).

Please take a moment to visit GiveLifeMeaning.org, spread the word and perhaps even contribute a portion of your Turkey Day budget. Given the hunger statistic cited above, may I suggest one eighth?

Round and Shiny: Oh Darling Brings the Bounce

Image The Portland-bred, L.A.-based pop-rock collective Oh Darling has the goods: killer melodic chops, a riveting sense of dynamics and potent band chemistry. Their latest, self-titled collection, available now via the iTunes Music Store and elsewhere, boasts nine beguiling tracks that recall influences like the Sundays, Built to Spill, the Cardigans, the Go-Go's, the Pixies and the B-52's but cast a new-wave spell all their own. This is due in equal measure to singer-keyboardist Jasmine Ash's gossamer vocals, guitarist Daven Hall's incisive lines and the buoyant rhythm section of bassist J. Marie Hall and drummer Jake Endicott.

The songs — especially the alluring "I Like You, Baby," the propulsive, yearning "Just Love, Anyway," the tempo-shifting "Lamplight (Shine)" and the sugary, irresistible "Colorful Day" — are uniformly enchanting, which is why the band's been heard on numerous TV series and a VW commercial. But unless you catch them live you won't get the full effect of their esprit de corps (nor will you experience the wild vintage attire of Jasmine and J. Marie). L.A. folks can catch them at the Viper Room on December 6; it's free if you RSVP.

Onstage or on your iPod, this is a band to fall in love with; if I had a three-ring binder I'd scrawl "Oh Darling" all over it.

Not Our Clients: Off-the-Menu Edition

We queasily present the worst sushi name ever:

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Um, ew. (Thanks to Codi Lazar for this submission.)

Sample more unappetizing Not Our Clients specials here. Had your appetite ruined by a similarly raw mistake? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if we use it, you'll net a fresh iTunes Music Store gift card, redeemable for tracks by Puffy Ami Yumi, Fats Waller's "Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood Mama)" or "Sushi Girl" by the Tubes, among other treats.


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