Monday, September 17, 2007

Tagline, you're it!

Many years ago, a marketing consultant proposed that my company dub our products the Final Solution.

I sat there slack jawed, wondering whether this person was completely insane, completely callous, or had just been dozing when they did the chapter on Nazi Germany in World History 101.

I thought of this when I happened to glance at an advertorial for investing in Peru which appeared in a recent Economist.

The header for one of the article's was "Lighting the way ahead." Yes, it was for an energy company, Luz del Sur, so they certainly are lighting the way in Peru. Still, you'd think a company in a country that had been terrorized for years by an organization called "Shining path" could have picked another way to express themselves. (At least they didn't outright say "Luz del Sur: The Shining Path for Peru.)

This triggered some thought about taglines, or corporate mottos, or whatever they're called.

I actually like them. Or, at least, the idea of them.

They may not say all that much about your company or products, but they do provide some insight into how you see yourself. They can be memorable. They look good in ads and/or next to your bare-naked logo.

In any event, it's a warm, late summer/early fall afternoon, so I thought I'd look at a couple of taglines (grabbed from whatever mags I have lying around), just for the heck of it.

Google: Don't be evil. Although it makes me smile a teensy-weensy little bit, I really don't like this one very much. A bit too smug, a bit too faux counter culture. Maybe it's just a bit too Gen-Y for me. (Larry and Sergey: This is your mother, Pollyanna Page-Brin, asking why it couldn't be "Doing good through technology" or "Searching for good." It's not as if I'm asking you to change it to "Be nice.") Mostly, it reminds me of the Grateful Dead's "Mean People Suck," an association that can't possibly be intended.

Accenture: High Performance. Delivered. As long as you know that Accenture is a consultancy, and not, say, a gasoline additive - or whatever it is that STP is or was - this is actually pretty good. I like that period between performance and delivered. Makes the statement nicely emphatic. Having Tiger Woods in the picture certainly helps drive (sorry) the point home, although I do think that TW is getting a wee bit overexposed. (Just don't ask me about the weird little accent mark over the "t" in Accenture. It makes me want to say Ack-sent-TURE. Odd.)

Nokia: Work together. Smarter.There's that period separation again. It must be one of those stylistic things that just sweep through periodically - like the colors blue and brown going together, or the names Emily and Jacob. I still like it, but this doesn't so much do it for me. Yes, it's in an ad about mobile security, so maybe the tag line only refers to that product area. I hope it's not their general tagline, but I'm too lazy to go look.

Fidelity: Smart move. Well, only if you're moving to Fidelity. What about me? I'm already there.


T. Rowe Price: Invest with confidence. Well, not enough to get me to make a move over to T. Rowe Price, however smart that move might be. But it tells me what they do, and how they do it. (Or how they make me about doing it.)

Symantec: Confidence in a connected world. Very nice. Speaks to the world, and Symantec's place in it.

Sony: like. no. other. ARRGGHHHH! The attack of the periods! To me, this doesn't look right or read right. The all lower case doesn't help, either. But mostly it's. the. periods. Like no other use of periods that I've seen. It's a little like naming that kid Jacob Jacob, or Emily Emily, don't you think?

Microsoft. Your potential. Our passion. Is my potential really their passion? Or is making software their passion - which would make sense. Truly, if my potential were really their passion, they'd never have released PowerPoint.

Florida. Innovation Hub of the Americas. Sorry to pick on a state that probably doesn't have a million dollars to spend on coming up with a tagline. (At least for the sake of Floridian tax-payers I hope that's the case.) Yes, I'm sorry, but this one just goes dead in the Gulf of Florida waters for me. Oh, I'm sure that there are all kinds of innovators in Florida. It's a big state. There just have to be. So why is it that the only innovation that comes to mind is the dangling chad......

Well, this one could go on forever.

Got a tagline you love or hate?  Tag. You're it.


John Whiteside said...

Truly, if my potential were really their passion, they'd never have released PowerPoint.

That made my morning.

Mary Schmidt said...

Thanks for the Monday laugh!

It continues to amaze me - even after decades - how much time and money (and deep, deep thought in stuffy conference rooms) people put into tag lines - just to end up with something like "the center for innovation." (Hey, pay me $100 and I'll do that one for you in a return email!)

Google's tag line has always bugged me too - particularly after they started lobbying in D.C. big time and hired a PR firm that has done some really reprehensible things in the political realm.

John Whiteside said...

Mary, for $100, nobody will believe the tag line is any good. Charge $10,000 and they'll love it.