Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Advertising taglines - a taxonomy

Taglines are one of the simpler brand positioning tools available. While a tagline can be used for a variety of purposes, its foremost value is to encapsulate a brand position into concise and compelling consumer terms. Incidentally, the reversal of this process is a short-hand way to construct a competitive brand landscape: the strategic territory a brand occupies or its core focus can be derived from its consumer oriented tagline expression (though a more rigorous approach is to deconstruct advertising in the category).

OFD conducted some tagline research recently to see what would be gleaned from the way marketers are using this positioning tool. The day was December 27th, 2007. The stimulus was British daily newspaper The Independent. A comprehensive assortment of taglines from the paper were collected for analysis.


1. There was a heavy preponderance of company-oriented statements which surprised our panel. Sentiments focused on the consumer are much more likely to resonate with their needs and desired. This is the basic premise of authentic marketing after all: the focus is on the consumer, not the company in a self-serving, self-absorbed way.

2. There was a distinct lack of sparkle, creativity or imagination. This is a wasted opportunity to make a memorable impression, however small and fleeting.

3. Most of the taglines were generic and vague. The fact that most were not unique suggests by extension that these brands' positions are also not unique, which raises an even bigger strategic concern. Sustainable differentiation is critical across all points of contact for a brand, in every category.

Our favorite: Holiday Inn. Behind every great discovery is a Holiday Inn. This does it all: It's consumer oriented, suggests a compelling, credible benefit in an imaginative way. Furthermore, it's ownable and consonant with the brand at large. Great Job! To the other brands, you have work to do to improve your positioning clarity, either in tagline expression or fundamental strategic design.

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