1+1=3

 8th August 2015
By johnwilliamson

Why are claims, tag-lines and slogans added to a company’s Brand? What’s their purpose? Are they needed? If so, which kind is the right kind?

Summary: A good tag-line should enhance a Brand’s virtues instead of being a mere descriptor. It should engage its audience by asking what it can do for them and start a “conversation”. The combination of a tag-line added to a visual brand should be larger than the sum of its parts: hence, 1+1=3

In Branding, anything added to the Brand should make sense… in fact it has to do more than make sense… it should make a Brand go further in its reach.

Slogans, claims, tag-lines, mottos are the typical “add-ons” which, if used wisely, help a Brand stand out from the rest. They have to work hard and spark a emotion a visual Brand alone can’t achieve.

What shouldn’t a slogan or a claim be about? For starters, it’s not a descriptor. A slogan or claim which is merely a description of a company’s product or service is too obvious. It’s too inflexible, won’t stand the test of time, and, more importantly, will not engage an audience.

So, what’s a slogan or a claim really all about? a promise? a statement of intent? a re-affirmation? or just a neat and accepted way of “signing-off” an ad? I think it’s all of these but could and should be more. So, what makes a really great slogan?

For me the golden rule for any “add-on” to a Brand, and especially when dealing with tag-lines, is the 1+1=3 rule. This means that the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts. In other other words, the combination of visual symbol and the tag-line has to communicate an essence which neither could to solely by itself.

A good tag-line should point to what the Brand User Experience will be like and become part of its promise. It should tell the user what it will do for them as opposed to simply how big or beautiful it considers itself to be. A good example of this is BMW’s tag-line in different countries. In the UK and USA it is “The Ultimate driving machine”. In Spain it’s “¿Te gusta conducir?” (Do you like driving?). ¿Te gusta conducir? YES, I do! and that “YES” engages so much more than “The Ultimate driving machine”. ¿Te gusta conducir? is a example of engaging the public and talking to them instead of talking at them. It’s a very 1+1=3 slogan.

I think it’s time I gave a few more examples of good 1+1=3 tag-lines.
EA Games’ “Challenge Everything”. WOW! just two well chosen words says tons about their ethos. But it goes further, it points inwardly to what the whole brand AND company experience is about. I’d love to work for a company which challenges the status quo and breaks moulds.

Another inwardly facing tag-line is McDonald’s corporate motto “Good Food, Fast”. Not to be confused with its global slogan “I’m loving’ it”, “Good Food, Fast” takes a swipe at the negative connotation of fast food but doesn’t go far enough in engaging its audience.

So, do all Brands need tag-lines and claims. Yes and No. Automatically saying Yes is a knee-jerk reaction as the creation and inclusion of a tag-line needs proper consideration. It really depends on where a particular Brand is in its trajectory. If it’s new (like a start-up), then I’d say definitely… the more info a new Brand offers its audience, the better chance it has of engaging and taking off.

Established Brands which already have a personality and stand for something can take more liberties as their product or service and brand experience is already known. If this is the case, why don’t they and get a little more creative? Why do established brands bore us with the same old same old? Perhaps it’s because they don’t understand or value a more creative approach to slogan writing or maybe they underestimate their public’s intelligence and opt for a conservative and un-engaging tag-line.

Or maybe there’s another reason. It’s easy to blame a client or company for boring communication, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we, the Creatives, are very much responsible for mediocre sloganeering. I see it as a FAIL on our part if we haven’t done our job properly and have had the skill and intelligence to convince a client that a creative approach and one which differentiates is the best one.

It would be a shame not to push further the noble art of slogan and claim writing as it can make a Brand really sparkle.
So, here’s my humble contribution to the cause.
· Understand where the brand’s at (trajectory and heritage)
· Get to understand a Brand’s core, where it’s appeal really lies and what makes it aspirational
· Talk to your public and not at them. Tell your public not what your Brand does, ask what your brand can do for them.
· Don’t be pompous; it’s just a Brand.
· And above all, believe in a creative approach and that the whole (visual symbol + claim) should be greater than the sum of its parts
That’s 1+1=3

PS: I’ve just seen Wikileaks’ tag-line: “WE OPEN GOVERNMENTS”… WOW!

Which tag-lines have caught your attention recently? (good and/or bad). Please leave your comments below

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