Mixed Signals: The American Heritage Dictionary Says Words Still Matter

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

It’s been said that actions speak louder than words. Our words fall flat when our actions aren’t aligned with the tongue. But that doesn’t mean words have no value. Our deeds fall just as flat when our words do not support and define the work of the hands.

A new campaign for the launch of the fifth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (AHD) stresses the power of words to define who you are to the world around you. Titled “You Are Your Words,” the AHD campaign includes several functions to invite its target to get involved.

To add some zing to the release, AHD is giving away one copy of its Fifth Edition each day to one lucky word lover who Tweets about the campaign using “an interesting word” and including the “@ahdictionary” Twitter handle and the “#youareyourwords” hashtag. The second campaign piece to launch is its interactive Web site, where visitors can upload a personal photo and some meaningful words to create a photographic word image that is included in its gallery.

These interactive elements will be supported with other campaign pieces in the weeks ahead. The copy on the Web site gives insight to the campaign messaging with copy that reads:

Your words really do define you, and you can make the most of them with the Fifth Edition of the American Heritage® Dictionary.

AHD has distilled its message to its core offering: words. The words we choose say something significant about who we are and what we believe. Words are powerful.

And Christians especially should be in awe of words and the power they possess. From the Bible we know that God spoke and the world came into existence (Gen. 1) and Jesus is the Word of God (John 1). Scripture tells us the words we speak have the power to give life or death to others (Prov. 18:21), show the condition of our hearts (Matt. 15:18), and prove if our religion (i.e., faith in Christ) is worth anything at all (James 1:26).

And most sobering of all, Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36). Ouch. The words we choose and the way in which we say them will prove if Jesus or sin defines us.

Actions may speak louder than words, but words still say something. When it comes to the power of words, the Bible and the AHD agree: Words are powerful, so use them wisely.

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