Beware the Double-Edged Sword of Product Naming

September 10th, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve added to my “Failure to Communicate” Section.  But today Friend of the Blog, Duff McDuffie sent me a link that I couldn’t help but post about.  In fact, I ‘ve been laughing on and off for the last hour whenever I think about this.  Look closely at the picture above.  It is part of a sales letter for a product (link not provided because I don’t endorse the product).  The product is taking about Double-Edged Weight loss.

So, I expected the product to say something like:

“You’ll lose weight fast but you’ll lose your feet in the process”


“Slice Off 10 Pounds in 3 Seconds–As We Chop of Your Head”

Seriously, look at the sword in that pic.  It looks menacing.

But all joking aside, this is a case of someone misunderstanding the idiom “double-edged sword.”  I’m sure they thought it meant getting two benefits at the same time.  If you read the last sentence in the sales letter, that is what they are suggesting.  But that’s not what it means. If something is a double-edged sword, it carries both a liability and a risk. For example, “Freedom is Speech is a double-edged sword: we get to say what we want but we have to listen to people whose views we find objectionable”.

So, if people understand this product correctly, they may think the product carries some liability.

I’m not saying that’s true.  But it might be a good idea to check a dictionary before naming a product.  Just saying…


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