The Decline of the Tagline (i.e., Positioning Line)

Says BrandWeek:

…as the onslaught of holiday ads hits, there are likely to be [fewer taglines] as many marketers are using their taglines sparingly or not at all. “It used to be on the list of deliverables,” said Mike Wolfsohn, vp/executive creative director at Ignited, Los Angeles. “It was mandatory.” Not so today. Starbucks, Samsung, Converse and others are among the growing number of brands that do not focus on the use of taglines. M&Ms and Pizza Hut, meanwhile, run their tags, “Discover your inner ‘m’” and “America’s favorite pizza,” only occasionally.

And why is this happening?

Too often, taglines are used as safety nets out of a fear that the rest of the campaign isn’t communicating well enough, he said. Taglines are often more utilitarian and less emotional, experts say. They tend to be fed through the focus group mill until they’re watered down beyond recognition. That process does not produce “Think Different,” “Got Milk?” or “Just Do It.” “If the Nike tagline were suggested today, the question back would probably be, ‘Just do what?’” said Wolfsohn.

So what do we do now?

For a slogan to stick, it’s not just coming up with five catchy words or less, said Landor & Associates’ managing director Allen Adamson. It’s vital to weave that message through all the communications and the very brand DNA itself. “It has to be the right promise, with the brand living up to it, expressed in a sticky, unexpected way,” Adamson said. “And then you have to spend money and stay with it for the long haul.”

To summarize:

– Right promise – Brand living up to it – Expressed in sticky, unexpected way – Spend money – Stay with it

Too often in radio, a tagline – or positioning line, as we call it – is a crutch – a shorthand for what we are when what we are should be its own shorthand. When what we are should be bigger than the tagline itself, because what we are is what our brand is.

And anyone who thinks your radio brand is no more than your positioning line should be reminded that this is not the 70’s, and just because you’re stuck on Band-Aid, doesn’t mean Band-Aid’s stuck on you.

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