You Can't Stand Out if You Blend In

Published 02/01/2021
Your businesses' messaging has to stand out if you don't don't want to blend in. The right message gets results. The wrong message, or the uninspired one will make you seem unremarkable and forgettable, just when you need to be remarkable and memorable.
Every day, we are subjected to a tsunami of promotion, marketing and advertising in social media and entertainment. Because of this, not only is it difficult to get noticed and stand out, but you also have to do it quicker and quicker. This makes the need for a great tagline more relevant today than ever before.
Although slogans and taglines seem interchangeable, slogans are typically used for a specific ad campaign or product, while a tagline should be designed to represent your brand.
Last week we looked at branding. This week we will examine what a great tagline should look like.
A good tagline will do several things:
1.    Let you quickly and efficiently quantify what your company is all about.
2.    Allow you to set yourself apart from your competition – you’ll stand out instead of blending in, and;
3.    Over time, a memorable tagline will only increase in value, becoming more recognizable  and trustworthy.
A study, first published in the Journal of Business Research, conducted collaboratively by researchers from Texas Tech, Cal State Fullerton, and the University of Georgia looked at the characteristics that make a slogan or tagline likeable. However, before we briefly look at some of their results, remember that likeability is not analogous to memorability, but is important in the totality of a successful tagline.
After asking respondents to indicate how much they liked 150 slogans or taglines, they analyzed the most popular ones to see what characteristics they shared. A few of the most liked taglines were:
·      Red Bull gives you wings
·      Disneyland – The happiest place on earth
·      What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Some of the most memorable taglines included:
·     Nike: Just do it
·     McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it, and
·     BMW: The ultimate driving machine
However, the list of most liked and most memorable didn’t include any of these. The standout taglines that met both criteria of likeable and memorability included:
·     M&Ms: Melt in your mouth, not in your hand
·     Subway: Eat fresh; and
·     Taco Bell: Think outside the box
So, what is the takeaway from these results? We may be able to remember a tagline because we’ve been exposed to it repeatedly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we like it more than other taglines. To achieve likability, a great tagline must have:
·     Clarity of message
·     Creativity of phrasing; and
·     Inclusion of a benefit
Now, let’s look at a perfect tagline. M&Ms: Melt in your mouth, not in your hand. It has all three things a tagline needs.
1.    The message is clear – you’ll have wonderful sweet chocolate melting in your mouth
2.    The phrasing is creative, and;
3.    The benefit is that your hands stay clean and are not sticky.
Coming up with a great tagline isn’t necessarily Icarian. You don’t have to be Amazon or Ford to do it. As a small business, you have the ability to create a tagline that has clarity, creativity and expresses a benefit that will allow you to immediately connect and relate to your targeted customer.
One last thought. If you’re looking to expand into foreign markets, be sure your tagline translates the way you want it to. The “Pepsi Comes Alive” tagline, when translated into Chinese is “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. I don’t care how good you think your product is – this a benefit you can’t deliver on.