I was astonished earlier this week when I read an article on a business news website which described Krispy Kreme as an artisan doughnut company. There seems to be a school of thought these days which says that if you describe something as artisan you somehow give it a touch of class. After all, Guardian readers are much more likely to purchase an “artisan loaf” than they are to buy bread from a supermarket.
To describe Krispy Kreme, a company with over 500 outlets in 21 different countries, as “artisan” could almost be described as a crime against the English language. Sadly such crimes are not uncommon. The Liverpool Echo recently described an ex footballer as a “Goodison Legend”. Robin Hood is a legend. King Arthur is a legend. Someone who made a handful of appearances for Everton in the mid 1980s is NOT a legend.
Overuse of the word “legend” means that it has become virtually meaningless. The same can be said for a range of other words and phrases – game changer, pushing all the right buttons, blue sky thinking, strategic partnership, thinking outside the box, etc.
One of my own personal bugbears is when an organisation says something along the lines of “success is in our DNA”. The regular corporate use of “in our DNA” has now become so ridiculous that it has resulted in a regular Private Eye feature.
The best advice for press officers and journalists is to stick to plain English and avoid lazy clichés like the plague. And, if you’re feeling a bit peckish, try an artisan doughnut.