Talking About Innovation? Here are 2 Pitfalls to Avoid


It seems as though everywhere we turn these days, there’s news of another company developing incredible new technologies. Innovations are all around us, and they’re changing our lives in ways we might never have imagined.

But with all this innovation, the team here at Quantified Communications has noticed something: Many leaders are struggling to communicate their most forward-thinking ideas in ways that really make their value clear. We’re not surprised—buzzwords and one-upmanship seem to be part of the culture of innovation, but leaders do themselves a disservice by playing that game.


In this era when “the next big thing” comes around every day, it’s often difficult to pick out the real deal from the noise. So, while you may have developed the next groundbreaking new technology, if you can’t communicate about it in a way that helps you stand out from the crowd, you’re missing a big opportunity.

At QC, we’ve spent a lot of time studying just what makes the most innovative leaders’ communication so effective, and you can read our key findings in our e-book. But for now, here are the two biggest mistakes we see innovators making when they promote their latest ideas.

1. Riding Other Innovators’ Coattails: Don’t Be the Uber of Anything

Over the past few years we’ve seen start-up after start-up turn entire industries on their heads—that’s real innovation! But just as frequently, we’ve seen these companies using empty comparisons to innovation giants when they talk about their visions. How many times have you heard a new idea described as “The Airbnb of tax compliance” or “The Uber of surfboards?”

This strategy may have been catchy the first couple times someone used it, but these days, piggybacking simply doesn’t help anyone stand out. What’s more, these flashy taglines don’t actually offer any insight as to the value of your innovation. The messaging must make it clear that the innovation stands on its own two feet, and this is especially important if you’re planning to create a new industry or market.

Instead of looking for comparisons, try crafting your messaging with your target customer in mind. Who do you help? What do you help them do?

2. Overusing Jargon

When it comes to communicating about innovation, it’s easy to fall into the jargon trap. Perhaps you really are “disrupting the dry-cleaning world using advanced cloud computing and AI,” but that statement doesn’t tell potential customers how you’re planning to clean their clothes.

It’s tempting to pepper in all that jargon to increase your product’s sex appeal, but let’s take a look at how some of our most iconic innovators describe their products:

SpaceX doesn’t waste time telling you about all the crazy technology used to design their rockets, instead, they simply say,

SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Google doesn’t tell us they’ve built the algorithm to beat all algorithms. They just say,

We organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

These innovators tell us exactly what they’re doing in plain, straightforward language. And they’re not alone.

In fact, when we used our analytics platform to look for communication traits that set innovators apart, we found the most innovative leaders communicate 16.1% more clearly than everyday leaders.

It’s important to avoid Silicon Valley jargon for two reasons. First, by speaking plainly, you’ll make your idea accessible to a much larger audience, meaning you’ll touch more potential buyers. Second, using too much jargon could inadvertently turn you into a liar. It might be tempting to use the buzzwords of the day to explain your idea, but if you’re not truly in the digital transformation business, claiming you are might cause your users to think they’re getting something you’re not ready to deliver. In the end, that’s not the way to win their loyalty.

Instead, when you’re talking about your idea, take a page out of Google’s book. Tell your future customers what you’re aiming to do and exactly how it makes their lives better.

We bring the car mechanic to you at a price you can afford.

Our app helps you find street parking with the click of a button.

When a company—whether it’s the smallest startup or a giant like Google or Amazon—is getting ready to launch a revolutionary product or service, it’s easy to dive into jargon-filled explanations of the tech involved or make empty comparisons to situate that new innovation right in the middle of the crowded playing field. While these strategies may be helpful for certain audiences, your best chance at standing out to your target audience is a straightforward explanation of the problem you solve and who you solve it for.

To learn more about Quantified Communication’s data-driven research on innovative communication, check out our free e-book.