Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Corporate clichés: "Dedicated to mediocrity"

I'm filling in a survey for gas and electricity supplier nPower, run by a market research company called Nunwood. Nunwood's slogan is "experience excellence". 

As you can see, Nunwood abhors capital letters. That's not a major crime in the world of corporate branding (you might think 'nPower' is worse), and I'm not even complaining about the clichéd slogan. I don't mean that "experience excellence", with or without caps, is a good slogan; it's simply the kind of bland cliché whose awfulness doesn't stand out in the vast ocean of corporate mediocrity.

It's a sad state of affairs when the word 'excellence' has come to be a shorthand for timidity and lack of imagination, but this is how too many organisations think.

Chances are, unless you work in marketing, your only experience of Nunwood will be its surveys. Their wording displays such a degree of sloppiness and imprecision that one would think it was deliberate. The public's "experience" is hardly one of "excellence", unless "excellence" has come to mean "carelessness and inattention to detail".

Take this question: "How much do you spend on gas and/or electricity?" Yes, it's our old friend "and/or", used by people who can't be bothered to decide which word they want to use. How am I expected to answer that question? Do they want to know how much I spend on gas, on electricity or both? The answers are very different.

Then there's a series of questions, introduced thus: "The communication I receive from npower…". That's right, Nunwood can't even be bothered to follow its customer's naming style (nPower). Excellence, or casual disregard? 

Irritatingly, Nunwood insists on referring to its customer in the plural: "npower are a company that…". In other words, it uses the format "It are a thing."

It might seem petty to damn a company simply on the basis of one survey, but surely that is the face it offers to the world, so it's fair game. But if you want to look deeper, may I direct you to the unintentional hilarity that is the company's website (url:, where the clichés are almost falling over themselves:

We provide an end-to-end approach to customer experience management: a platform to move organisations from the desire to excel, through change, to leading performance.

To do this, we combine customer insight, analytics, consultancy and frontline training with our Fizz Customer Experience Management Software.
Alongside these capabilities, we provide clients with an advanced, detailed view of what cutomer experience excellence looks like: Nunwood's Customer Experience Excellence Programme is one of the largest international studies of best practice.
Underpinning this, the Customer Experience 5M Transformational Model is a proven framework for moving organisations from aspiration to excellence
I especially like the spelling mistake ("cutomer"); it's almost as if someone put it in deliberately, in case you weren't convinced that "excellence" was meant as a joke.* I'll let you mine the rest of the site for more pearls of non-wisdom, but I'll leave you with the almost poetically bad "Energising the organisation to achieve breakthrough change". 

Moral: Corporate literature makes more sense if you mentally change the word 'excellence' to 'mediocrity'. 

* Shortly after publishing this post, I noticed that someone from Nunwood had been looking at my LinkedIn profile (nothing wrong with that: it's there to be looked at). The spelling mistake on the website has now been corrected. The clichés are still there.


  1. You know they probably paid somebody £50,000 for that slogan though, don't you? And then probably another £150,000 for that other gibberish.

  2. This is only experience of Nunwood will be its surveys. The research paper editing service is absolutely favorable for them if they believe in.