December 2009 Posts

Tagline: Like a logo?

Like a logo: It’s a compact, potent vessel that carries your brand’s promise and personality.
Unlike a logo:it usually costs less to get a good one.
Like a logo: It’s small.
Unlike a logo: You can recite it.
Like a logo: Every brand needs a good one.
Unlike a logo: Few brands have a good one.
Like a logo (and unlike almost all of the other ways of expressing your brand): It has the potential to become iconic.
Unlike a logo: Everyone thinks they can create one.
Like a logo: Generally, you get what you pay for.
Unlike a logo: The client doesn’t always ask that it be bigger.

Any other “like/unlike” pairings out there?

Classic tagline muddle

There’s a company called Asus, manufacturer of motherboards. They carry a tagline that should never have happened. The line goes like this:

Inspiring Innovation. Persistent Perfection.

This line has, at a minimum, three fatal flaws.

1. It has the appearance, at first blush, of displaying parallelism between the first half and the second half. However, in order to be even slightly parallel, each half of the line would need to be similar in structure. The first half of the line starts with a verb. Therefore, the second half begs to start with a verb as well, but it doesn’t. You can’t just throw up any two pair of words and claim parallelism. And, because we have become accustomed to seeing taglines that are parallel, it is a disconnect (and not a GOOD disconnect) when we read what seems like it’s going to be a parallel line, and then bang into a decidedly un-parallel second half of the line.

2. If Asus had just settled for the first half of the tagline, it would be a better line. Because at least they would have employed a fairly common but effective device, namely, to play on both senses of a word that can either be a verb or an adjective. “Inspiring” is one of those words. So the line can be read as “We inspire innovations” and it can be read as “Our innovations are inspiring.” That’s enough of a play to sustain this as a passable tagline by itself. But then they went ahead and added “Persistent Innovation”. In doing this, they undercut our ability to see the cleverness of the first half of the line by distracting us with this new, incongruent thought.

Kudos to Pepperidge Farms

The current Pepperidge Farms tagline is “Good is in the details.” I congratulate them, not for a very original or intriguing line, because it’s not, but rather, for having the guts to go with this line. I expect that my experience with this tagline is paralleled by many, many other copywriters out there who have come up with, and tried to sell this line to a client on one or more occasions. In my case, I’ve probably tried to sell the line two or three times over the past 20 years. In every case, the client balked because it played on “God”, and this made them squirm. Never mind that the line does a very good job of expressing the promise of quality based on attention to detail, which is a story that half the world seems to want to tell. So I applaud Pepperidge Farms for having the courage to finally be the brand to put this line to good use. And to all those hyper-paranoid brands out there who are committed to shooting down any tagline, regardless of its potency, at the tiniest hint of possible risk, even if that risk is entirely imaginary, I ask you to note that Pepperidge Farms is still standing. No lightning bolt. No boycott. Nothin’ but bread to be made.

tagline vs. tag line. Woe is me.

Sheesh. I just attended a presentation by Metrist, sponsored by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, during which I learned that I may be undermining my online marketing efforts because I always spell it “tagline” rather than “tag line”, even though the latter is the old school spelling. It seems that this term is in the middle of shifting from two words to one. Meanwhile, I’m Tagline Jim, not Tag Line Jim. Metrist principal Ken Novak raised the intriguing possibility of creating an evil twin home page for my site, identical to the real home page, but in which I spell it “tag line” wherever it appears. I suppose I could even do that throughout the entire site. By doing so, would I risk aligning myself with or enabling what I see as the out-of-date spelling of the term, thus encouraging the (dreaded) perception of me as out-of-date as well? After all, I shun the term “slogan” for that very reason, even though I know the normal lay person still calls them slogans and may not have heard of the word “tagline.” The honor of your wise counsel is requested, dear reader.