One key difference between a business and a brand.

I pay a lot of attention to the sides of trucks. It’s part of my job description. Some trucks carry only the name of the company that owns the truck. Or just the name and contact information. More common are trucks that display a descriptor of what kind of business it is, or a list of the types of things the business does or sells.

These trucks are of no interest to me. The companies that own these trucks don’t understand, much less value, their own brand. As a result they have little or no brand.

My interest, surprise surprise, lies in those company trucks that also feature the company’s tagline. I use the presence or absence of a tagline as a measure of how smart a company it is.

Yesterday I spotted a van belonging to Drip Drop Plumbing, a small business located in Naperville, Illinois. I don’t live in that vicinity, so I’d never heard of them.

Their tagline, proudly displayed on the truck: Finally, a plumbing company with a reasonable price. Never mind that this line was in quotes with an exclamation point at the end, two cardinal sins in tagline land. Despite these tagcrimes, I was tempted to get out of my car and go shake the driver’s hand.

Not because this is a great tagline. It’s not. But, at least, they have the insight and the guts to make their brand stand for something. They’ve chosen a value positioning for their brand, which, I’d guess, serves them well, given the common perception that plumbers are pricey. More important, they couched their tagline in the language of the customer, looking at it from the customer’s point of view. This tagline could be the thought bubble above the head of a customer who was just handed the bill from Drip Drop assuming that their prices really are reasonable, but that’s a whole different discussion.)

I don’t have a regular plumber. If I need a plumber, I’m probably going to do a search, or maybe consult Angie’s List or some local publication that rates local businesses. Or ask a neighbor. I may not choose to go with Drip Drop. But, because I saw the tagline and now understand that they at least claim to have reasonable prices, their name is on my considered set of possible plumbers. Without the tagline, this company still doesn’t exist in my world.

Not everyone thinks like I think. Not everyone will be affected by this tagline. But what if 5% of the people who glimpse this tagline on the side of their truck make a mental note, maybe not even consciously, of Drip Drop. That’s a lot of people. And what if, say, five of those people, over the course of a year, wind up using Drip Drop as a result of having noticed and liked the message the tagline conveys. And what if they then have a good experience with Drip Drop, and recommend them to a friend or neighbor or two. This is how a brand grows, in a way that a business without any brand to speak of, never will.

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