Thursday, June 10, 2010

Let's Build Something Together

In the brand training classes that I conduct for recent hires at my company, I talk about how the best brands are aspirational. The example I've been using is Lowe's, though there are many others that manage to embody a company's unique brand personality while speaking to the bond they promise to make with the customer. In the case of Lowe's I always tell the class somewhat dramatically that, as a long-time copywriter, their tagline practically brings tears to my eyes. That's because it not only manages to reference their brand purpose (providing you with the tools, products and guidance to create something that will improve your home) but it speaks to the ongoing relationship they hope to forge with their satisfied customer. And they manage to accomplish all that with just four fairly simple words -- something that's not at all easy to do.

Another beautifully-worded brand tagline is New York Life's. It's crafted to speak to the specific nature of insurance, so the messaging is slightly more oblique -- "the company you keep" could refer to your family and its protection, or even as a slight admonishment to develop relationships with vendors or carriers that are above-board and trustworthy. And, more directly, it's a testament to the enduring customer satisfaction they'll deliver -- the service they'll bring you will make you so brand-loyal that you'll never stray to another provider. Again, all this is accomplished with just four short, punchy words.

Sometimes, though, an errant punctuation mark can derail the effectiveness -- and innate beauty -- of an entire brand promise. Take, for example, Craftsman tools. Craftsman has been wildly promiscuous when it comes to taglines, having tried on and discarded a number of them, sort of like Julia Roberts' Pretty Woman gone wild in a dress shop with Richard Gere's Titanium Card. As recently as 2007 they announced that their tagline was "There's a Craftsman in all of us," which, while being somewhat aspirational in terms of reassuring the public at large that we're all capable of being handy around the house, becomes vaguely obscene when interpreted another way. That may be why it recently changed to "Trust. In your hands." Again, four carefully-chosen words. While it definitely speaks to the integrity of the tool you're depending on to accomplish the task at hand, the double meaning that successful taglines depend on for maximum impact has been unnecessarily eliminated. I'm hugely bothered by that first period. "Trust in your hands" would still reference the quality of their products, but the line would then also serve as a prompt to believe in your own ability to become a craftsman. It brings tears to my eyes, alright, but not in a good way.

No comments:

Post a Comment