We need to start using some new improved superlatives in our marketing copy. “Great!” you say. Yes, that’s the one. Great really grates on me. Great is so overused that it may as well be blank space. Great carries all the impact of a cotton puff.

Now, there was a time when great really meant something. Take Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, conqueror of lands, founder of cities for example. Now, he is great. Somehow I just can’t see Product XX’s great online resources changing the political and demographic history of three continents.

Or maybe Ramesses II, Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty, known as the Great. Can you imagine the great new flavor of Processed Food XXX ruling unchallenged for 66 years, causing the building of cities and monumental sculptures that survive for 3,500 years? Or inspiring poetry such as P.B. Shelley’s Ozymandias “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”?

OK. Actually, I CAN look on Processed Food XXX and despair. But Processed Food XXX great?!?! Not a chance.

The Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s east coast is truly Great. The reef system is thousands of kilometers long, and hosts a diversity of corals and sea life unmatched on the globe. Somehow it just seems insulting to compare it to the great customer (dis)service system of Company XXXX.

So let’s stop claiming every new and old product or service is great. After all, when every thing is great, nothing is great.

There are plenty of under-utilized superlatives available. Pick up a thesaurus or a dictionary and take a look. Click over to Thesaurus.reference.com, Merriam-Webster.com’s Thesaurus or any of the other online thesauri and peruse some of the

august, capital, chief, commanding, dignified, distinguished, eminent, exalted, excellent, famed, famous, fine, glorious, grand, heroic, high-minded, highly regarded, honorable, idealistic, illustrious, impressive, leading, lofty, magnanimous, main, major, noble, notable, noted, noteworthy, outstanding, paramount, primary, principal, prominent, puissant, regal, remarkable, renowned, royal, stately, sublime, superior, superlative, talented, able, absolute, aces, adept, admirable, adroit, awesome, bad*, best, brutal, cold*, complete, consummate, crack*, downright, dynamite, egregious, exceptional, expert, fab, fantastic, fine, first-class*, first-rate, good, heavy*, hellacious, marvelous, masterly, number one, out of sight, out of this world, out-and-out, perfect, positive, proficient, super-duper, surpassing, terrific, total, tough, transcendent, tremendous, unmitigated, unqualified, utter, wonderful, abundant, ample, big, big league, bulky, bull, colossal, considerable, decided, enormous, excessive, extended, extensive, extravagant, extreme, fat, gigantic, grievous, high, huge, humongous, husky, immense, inordinate, jumbo, lengthy, long, major league, mammoth, mondo, numerous, oversize, prodigious, prolonged, pronounced, protracted, strong, stupendous, terrible, titanic, towering, tremendous, vast, voluminous,

alternatives to great. It is time to spice up and enliven our marketing language.

Steve Lange
Palo Alto Software

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