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CALL IT WHAT IT IS

Shake Shack has taken the corporate obsession with buzzwords too far

Carlo Allegri
Shack-everything
This article is more than 2 years old.

The invented corporate buzzword has been around for years, but the burger chain Shake Shack has taken things to a new level in its S-1 filing for an IPO.

The company can’t seem to resist a portmanteau. ”The Shacksperience” is its employee-development program, which teaches staff to “live and breathe” the ”Shack Pact,” an agreement that encompasses the company’s value system and brand, and which is printed on the inside cover of the “Shackademics” training manual, presumably accessible through the “ShackSource,” its proprietary online training portal.

The company attributes its strong financial performance and profitable growth to “Shack-onomics.” 

That doesn’t even touch the menu, which includes both the perfectly reasonable “ShackBurger,” as well as the more strained “Shack-Cago Dog“—both are trademarked.

There’s a long and proud history of made-up words in the food industry (see the “McEverything”), and more generally, in corporate America.

There are many sub-genres of buzzword, jargon, and corporate invention. There’s the tortured acronym (consider Barclays’ LiMME, which led inevitably to BLiMME), the self-consciously different name for a common department (recently, tech companies have preferred “People Operations” to Human Resources), and all manner of designations, appellations and handles that are incomprehensible to anyone on the outside.

It makes sense to create a product name that fits a brand or can be trademarked, or to use a name to make a point, or just to have some fun. But appending what’s basically a menu-item naming convention to the economic rationale for a company’s existence is a bit much. Could someone ask this corporate Shackspeare to please Shake the habit?

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