Label Leveraging

Posted on December 28, 2011

I never expected to get in the middle of a contentious battle by attending one of those home parties for skin care products. But battle it was. And the biggest issue was over labeling.

On the couch was a middle-aged beauty espousing all the glorious goodness of Botox. On the facing loveseat was a 30-something research scientist rattling off the many dangers of botulism toxin. You would never know from the descriptions spewing from each that they were talking about the same thing.

For the beauty, temporary Botox injections were a lifesaver and worth every penny. The most popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure in the US gave her smooth skin, shaved 10 years off her looks, increased her confidence and, she swears, lessened her sweating.

For the scientist, intentionally injecting poisonous venom into ones’ body, no matter how minute, is akin to overt maniacal tendencies. It should be blatantly obvious, according to her, that exposing your vital organs to a known deadly toxin exposes you to headaches, nausea, paralysis, choking, suffocation, muscle weakness, blurred vision, incontinence…

Once arguments were emphasized, the actual debate focused on the label. Botox is accepted terminology, presenting a pretty moniker about an innocuous procedure that’s accepted by the FDA (mainly for its pain-relieving ability) and considered relatively safe, and even routine, in the beauty industry. It’s what the Stars do. Botulism toxin injections sounds menacing, deadly and the term is rarely brought up in polite society – the researcher’s exact point. If we were forced to call the procedure by its true noxious identity, people would think twice about having it. Even the beauty had to admit she would have hesitated hearing just the toxin label.

Word choice creates powerful emotions. Changing a label changes the landscape of how you react. And your perception dictates how you proceed.

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