WSJ Offers Examples of Overly Complicated Corporate Descriptions


One of the challenges for startups is to devise an interesting name, one that’s not already taken, one with a URL and a Twitter feed still available.

One they pick a name, the next challenge is to make sure everyone on their management team pronounces it the same way. (We’ve seen a number of companies recently where that hasn’t been the case.)

One they’ve done that, startups need to develop compelling and understandable branding and descriptions.

This isn’t a problem only faced by startups.

In a article, “Dad, What Do You Do at Work? I’m a Leader in Active Safety; Communication Breaks Down as Businesses Craft Grandiloquent Self-Descriptions,” the Wall St. Journal points out some examples that may not be 100-percent effective, such as:

  • Parker Hannifin Corp., a diversified industrial company whose products include pumps and valves, styles itself “the global leader in motion and control technologies.”
  • TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. wishes to be known as “the global leader in active and passive safety”—or what the rest of us might call brakes and safety belts.

The problem? According to the Journal, “it’s getting harder to tell what some companies actually do.”

As further evidence, check out the interactive Brand Translation grid, which asks you to mix-and-match the company with the corporate description. It’s not easy!

The Journal makes a good point, even if one corporate spokesperson says that its customers know who they are.

Seems like business still needs to focus on making what they do easier to understand.

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