The Trouble with JargonMarch 15th, 2012 by Jennifer Vaughn
Every industry has jargon. When used well it makes communication clearer and quicker. When compiled into flashcards, it makes for a fun office game.
But, jargon can also be a barrier. It can make communicating across departments difficult in large organizations. When computer-troubleshooting with my parents, jargon can make everyone want to chuck the computer out the window and go back to carrier pigeons. At RIGHTSLEEVE, we work with a variety of industries that have their own forms of jargon, so it can be confusing when we’re using the same words but with different meaning.
Here are five jargon hotspots that often flare up into misunderstandings. Hopefully reading how RIGHTSLEEVE uses these terms might help bridge some communication barriers of your own.
Purchase Orders (aka POs) at RIGHTSLEEVE are used to communicate with vendors outside of our offices. They tie together an exterior supply chain rather than an interior spend. However, in large companies, POs are usually internal documents that are sent between various departments and their finance team. They are often used to approve large spends. Once approved, the PO number must be placed on all bills so finance knows to tie it back to the initial approval.
Samples fall into three main categories.
- Blank samples are an undecorated product that is pulled and shipped so a client may examine the construction and function of an item.
- Decorated samples are usally decorated with another company’s logo. Often these are pulled from over-runs and used so that customers can see the decoration quality of an object.
- Pre-production samples are a “first off the press” item usually pulled from the full stock of a confirmed order and produced before the large run is placed on the line. Pre-pro samples are done so a customer can see how the products in their order will look and feel. Depending on the amount of time and cost pre-pros can be done via photo and approved immediately or shipped for review and approval after receipt. Pre-pros that are shipped to a customer for approval usually take longer and may have a higher cost associated with them because machines have to be set-up an extra time.
Proofs are often confused with samples. A proof is a graphical representaion of a logo on the item being purchased. The item can be a line-drawing with the logo added or a picture with the logo super-imposed (sometimes also called virtual proofs). Proofs are generally used to ensure proper placement and logo use. They are often sent as pdfs and viewed on computers. To allow for color display differences on monitors, many proofs will be done in black and white renderings with color noted as the appropriate pantone color.
Color and color theory are topics with a level of complexity beyond my comprehension and one of the biggest misunderstandings between our designers and our customers. A customer might come to us thinking the logo to the left is a two-color logo – blue and red. At first glance I see a 5 color logo – 3 different blues, red, and white. My designer would probably see five colors plus several gradients. Differences this big afffect not only how this logo can reproduce on the variety of products that we offer, but can also change the costing in a big way.
Digital Artwork is akin to color theory in its ability to confuse. Put plainly, artwork needs to be vector to re-size and reproduce well on the majority of our products. To really understand vector, take your favorite graphic artist out for a coffee and an coax the details out of them. For an abbreviated version from a non-graphic person (that’s me!) read on.
Vector Artwork is an image created in a vector-based software such as Adobe Illustrator (.ai file extension). The canvas for creating vector artwork is a grid. The lines of the image are defined by their relationship to points on that grid. Because vector graphics are created on this grid-like system, you can make the grid larger or smaller and the relationship between items stays the same with no loss of quality. By comparison, a .jpg file is not a vector image and therefore becomes pixelated or “muddy” when the size is adjusted.
People often say the same thing in different words, now I also keep an ear out for people saying different things with the same words. Hopefully that will help to keep the tower of jargon from collapsing around us.