Jul 26


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Words Impact Our Industry And Our Business
By Vicky Kimble


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It seems fascinating to me that terminology can inadvertently impact the course of an industry and the path of our business, but the fact of the matter is, it can.


Just before the FLOAT convention, which I am a staff member, Graham had asked me to write another article.  He had also suggested that FLOAT might inspire some good ideas for the next article, and boy, did it ever!!

I had all kinds of thought-provoking topics in mind, but thanks to an experience I had at FLOAT, one issue in particular seemed very important to address…industry lingo.


Think of how a brand name can stick in your mind when associated with a certain product.  When you need to make a photocopy, don’t you usually refer to it as a XEROX copy? How about when you need to blow your nose?  Do you ask for a tissue or a KLEENEX?  People with indigestion usually ask for a TUMS or ALKA-SELTZER, not an antacid.  Okay, you get my point.



But here’s the point, a tissue has more uses than just blowing your nose.  If the concept is that the only person who would use a tissue is someone with a cold or allergies, it limits the amount of use and sales of that product. It is up to the manufacturers to educate the general public as to all the wonderful things it can also be used for, and then more people will buy the product and use it.


During FLOAT, I realized something extremely important.  With a few simple words and a little misguided marketing, our industry has been selling itself short!!


One of the opportunities I have at FLOAT is to teach what are called FLASH classes.  A FLASH class is a 30-minute “quickie” class packed with a lot of valuable information.  The idea for my two FLASH classes was simple…manipulating non-round balloons.

Since FLOAT is a convention that caters to intermediate to advanced level decorators, I felt it would be very beneficial to decorators to become more comfortable with manipulating non-round balloons. The truth is, they do have a bit of a different “feel” to work with, so I thought a bit of hands-on experience might ease their trepidation a bit!!

I wanted to familiarize the decorators with a variety of shapes and sizes and have them see just how easy they can be to work with and how they would enhance their work by incorporating them into their every-day designs.

So I went into my private “stash” of inventory and pulled out a couple of sample packs of balloons from both Qualatex and Betallatex that were distributed at various conventions I have attended.


Funny, I had never noticed it before.  The bags were marked “Entertainer” balloons and “Twister” sample pack. Stigmatizing them as “Entertainer” or “Twister” balloons immediately deters decorators from even trying to incorporate them into their work.  The natural assumption is that they have no use for them because that’s not what they do.  I’m sure, that was never the intention.


Please don’t get me wrong.  This article is in no way intended to offend my friends at Pioneer and Betallic. Sorry guys, you know I love you both, but I believe this is a detriment to our industry AND your sales!!  When the two leading balloon companies inadvertently categorize their own products and create self-imposed limitations, it’s time to change the terminology!!

In defense of Qualatex, the bag of sample balloons was called “Entertainer and SPECIALTY latex balloons”.  Hmmm, SPECIALTY, what a great word!!  The very thing we want these balloons to reflect…that they are SPECIAL!!  Not to say that there is anything wrong with and ordinary round balloon, but they are just that…ordinary, or at least what people have come to expect when they hear the word, “balloon”.

Then again, there is nothing ORDINARY about Don Caldwell climbing in and out of a six-foot round balloon!!  Does that mean that round balloons are just for decorators?  😉  I think I’ve made my point!!

We are a community of BALLOON PROFESSIONALS that specialize in different areas of expertise.  It is to our advantage to use all types of styles and sizes of both round and non-round balloons. By using a variety of styles, sizes textures and shapes of balloons, it not only makes our work look better, expands our knowledge and improves our art form, but most importantly, promotes the companies that make what we do possible.


My goal, as always, is for the advancement and improving the level of professionalism and respectability of our industry.  When certain terms or concepts become a stigma, it creates confusion and limits the advancement of our industry as a whole.

  • This includes the use of the word MYLAR in reference to foil balloons. For those of us who have been in the industry for ages, know there were legal issues with using the term MYLAR, so it is in our best interest to refer to them as FOILS.
  • Unless you have ever piloted a hot-air balloon, sadly, according to Webster’s, you are not a balloonist.  A Balloon Professional or Balloon Artist yes, but not a BALLOONIST.
  • Entertaining at KID’S parties…Balloon entertainment is fun and entertaining for ALL AGES!!

These are just a few examples of how our work can be misconstrued.


The good news is, this is so easy to change. We can change these preconceived notions with the change of a word or two. It doesn’t cost a thing, and yet it has the potential to be so profitable!!


So go out and show the world all the wonderful things that can be created with all kinds of balloons; ROUNDS, NON-ROUNDS, FOILS, BUBBLES, and SPECIALTY SHAPES.  With a few simple additions, your ordinary work will immediately become extraordinary, as will your profits!!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Til’ the next time, stay uplifted and a little bit twisted!!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Copyright 2011 – Vicky Kimble  & Rouse Technologies for “Making It With Balloons Network”


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  1. Mark Zettler

    Hi Vicky, Thanks for your thoughts. When I started to read this I recalled writing an article about words in our industry years ago. Back in 1998 I took a similar look at words we use in our industry that don’t really help us quite enough. Words like “tree” or “topiary” vs. “puff ball” vs. “cloud.”

    I even brought up the Mylar issue, too. It is all right here at http://www.balloonsandparties.com/ProblemSolver_199806.shtml or perhaps Graham (the Birthday Boy!) would be kind enouigh to post it on this blog.

    Thanks again,
    Mark Zettler, Publisher
    BALLOONS & Parties Magazine

  2. María Florencia Carballo

    Muy cierto lo que dices!!! Las palabras hacen la diferencia! muy bueno, para tener en cuenta, saludos! :)
    — Google Translation: Very true what you say! The words make the difference! very good, to take into account, Greetings! :)

  3. Sean O'Kelly

    very thought provoking.
    We have the same problems in Australia, as I’m sure does other parts of the world.
    With the many ‘old school’ decorators like me, Twisters, Florists, event organisers, venue owners, distributors and the continuing flow of Newbies as well as customers all speaking a bits of industry talk it can be confusing.
    It seems that some decorators consider ‘a bunch of balloons’ as a name is too common place and prefer to give it a slightly more interesting title. I know many of us (me included) like to give particular arrangements (especially Delivery pieces) a stylish or catchy name to help the ‘ marketing & sell’ but they are all Bunches of Balloons,aren’t they so why do some decorators call them Balloon Trees or even Balloon Columns?
    The QBN seems to be doing a splendid job combating the problem but even they seem to be ‘dropping the ball’ a little these days by not being clearly proactive about defining and promoting a universal language or Glossary
    I know I’ve tried to do my bit in trying to be consistant with the use of terms in my own instruction sheets but unless others use the same Glossary I might as well be speaking Klingon.

    Perhaps (if I can be bold enough to suggest) it should be left up to the different Associations like NABAS in the UK, IBA in the USA and BASA in Australia who communicate with more ballooners than any one individual, to communicate a little more and agree on the same Balloon Speak Glossary. If IMAGES – Balloon and Parties as well as the many other Industry related magazines and newsletters followed suit our industry terms would become common place and eventually (hopefully) even our customers would actually know that Double-Stuffing is not refering to cramming two biscuits in your mouth at once.

    I’m all for a unified set of terms …………. but who is going to suggest them. Perhaps this could be an international project that could be put into action at the next convention ? ……….. where ever it my be in the world

  4. Vicky Kimble

    Thanks so much to the responses, so far.

    Mark, I’m so glad you have been addressing the issue for quite some time…thank you.

    Maria, greetings and thanks for your input :-).

    Sean, you crack me up!! (Double-Stuffing…LOL) Seriously though, you bring up an excellent suggestion for a glossary of terms.

    What originally prompted me to write the article was the balloon manufacturers referring to non-rounds as “entertainer” balloons, but with the advancement of our industry and more and more people becoming “Hybrid-Mutant Deco-Twisters” such as myself, it is has become increasingly important for all of us as balloon professionals to use the same terminology and be on the same page, so to speak.

    I think this may be a good project for the IBA. I was blessed to be able to spend some time with Marty Fish this past month at the WCE&BAC. She is now on my list to call and present this idea to her.

    Let’s make this happen…

  5. Johnna

    What a terrific article, Vicky!

    I think about the choice of words often: balloon entertainer or balloon artist rather than balloon twister. Complimentary balloons are more valued than free balloons. Family entertainment is perceived as more valuable than kid’s entertainment.

    Thank you for sharing your input on this, you’ve given me even more words to think about!

  6. Jason Vaughn

    I think it also might add to the challenge that many artists want to make a name for their creations within the industry. For example instead of balloon charicature it’s balloonicature or lootle. Or even balloon distortion as balloosion :). I think this are great and fun, but if we are using these for our clients then thewill always need much more information.

    They’ll also never look them up on google.

  7. Vicky Kimble

    Thanks, Johnna and Jason for all the feedback.

    Johnna, you bring up an excellent point about some terminology being more dignified and professional. It’s not just about what we’re selling, but about how we’re selling it as well.

    Jason, you bring up an excellent point, as well. There does seem to be two different sets of “lingo”. Those used within the industry and those used when relating to the general public.

    Although it’s easy enough for the average client to understand that “balloonicature” is a caricature made from balloons and that “balloosion” is un-inflated balloon art, it does require an explanation, unless over time, these become common, household terms.

    The “lingo” that I was referring to in my article, focused more on the industry, as a whole, being on the same page, so we could all benefit from each ones’ area of expertise and incorporate all sorts of products, equipment, accessories, etc. into our repertoire to make us the most advanced balloon professionals possible.

    I feel it is essential that we do not categorize or stigmatize any products used within our industry so that we may all benefit from their use and value in making our work the best that it can be :-).

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