Strapline clichés to avoid #2: any strapline that includes the word “passion” (but especially if it’s combined with “excellence”)

Sooo, the last person on a final salary pension left the firm years ago.

Repeated rounds of redundancies have left people wondering if they’re next out the door.

And you’ve just asked your workers to take a pay cut because “we all need to pull together to survive the recession” (and, ahem, because your now departed chief financial officer decided to refinance the company with a derivative contract that his investment bankers told him would make him look great in front of his boss. Jeez, what kind of an idiot agrees to be on the other side of a bet with an investment bank?)

But despite all this, you still think your employees have an intense, emotional attachment to their work. And that the phrase “a passion for excellence” captures exactly how your firm gets things done.

Well, I hate to break it to you but “a passion for excellence” has already been co-opted by pretty much every other type of business, from estate agents to wine-makers to financiers to logistics solutions providers (whatever that means).

And sorry, but if you’re thinking that perhaps you’ll combine the “passion” cliché with the alliteration cliché, you’ll find that hotels, PR experts and cleaning firms are just some of the companies that have already laid claim to “a passion for perfection”, while Deutsche Bank has put its name to “a passion to perform”.

The way to overcome this problem, of course, is to indulge in that favoured activity of marketers – unbridled linguistic inflation.

Unfortunately, the slightly mad-sounding “an obsession with excellence” is already doing the rounds.

So how about “a compulsion to perform”? Or “neurotic about perfection”? “Completely anal about excellence”?

As far as I’m aware, they’re all still up for grabs. Get ’em before they go!

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17 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Brad Shorr says:

    Clare, Good suggestions! Let me throw another at you. Here’s a strapline that would well serve many a company –

    A Passion for Mediocrity

    What do you think?

  2. Dave says:

    How about something a little closer to the truth:

    ‘a need to pay the mortgage’


    ‘because we’re bored of day time TV’

  3. Clare Lynch says:

    Brad and Dave, I think you’re on to something. So many business leaders today say they want to be “authentic” – they could start with an honest strapline!

  4. Fritinancy says:

    Ah, the passionate corporation. One of my favorite subjects:

  5. Clare Lynch says:

    Great post – though depressing to discover that all this “passion” is even more ubiquitous than I thought.

  6. Stephen Carville says:

    I am reminded of an old Simpson’s episode where Homer wins the hollow and (intentionally) meaningless “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.”

    If the Simpsons can parody this sort of bullsh!t then it’s fair game for the rest of us.

  7. Stephen Carville says:

    oh gods!

    My phone has picked up an errant apostrophe in the above post.

    I am hanging my head in shame.

  8. Clare Lynch says:

    Stephen, that’s hilarious!

    And hey, apostrophe crimes happen to the best of us – write in haste, repent at leisure . . .

  9. Elisa says:

    Are there extra points for combining your two columns, ie “People, Passion and Performance”. (Visa event a few years ago – not my idea!)

  10. Clare Lynch says:

    I think there should be, Elisa. All those people performing passionately sounds a bit steamy, too!

  11. Clare Lynch says:

    Martin – thank you so much for posting that. It’s absolutely hilarious!

  12. Stephen Carville says:

    Isn’t “passion” how one would describe heavy rain in Glasgow?

  13. Clare Lynch says:


    So is “passion to perform” what Glaswegian men do publicly in the street on a Saturday night when they can’t find a urinal?


  14. Elaine Swift says:

    I passionately hate the word passionate! If there is so much passion flying around why is customer service generally so awful?

    Passion has gone the way of solutions – my other pet hate together with delivering and driving. Mmm how about – \’Passionate about delivering solutions to drive your business\’. Sad thing is, I bet it\’s already in use somewhere!

  15. Clare Lynch says:

    That’s the thing with “solutions”, everyone hates it, but everyone continues to use it. I hope you’ve checked out my rant about it, by the way?

  16. Bob Lewis says:

    God, I’m nearly 2 years behind here!

    Surely the ultimate meaningless claim would be ‘Committed to Passion’

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