Branding: Why bother?

[Cache – #32]

Being different is the essence of branding. If you’re not different, you’re the same – so why would anyone choose you instead of your competitors?

To establish and perpetuate your point(s) of difference, there are many tools at your disposal, residing in mutually supportive realms that include brand experience (what it’s like to interact with you) visual identity (what you say with logo and graphic elements) and verbal identity (what you say with words, including names and taglines).

All of which is a build-up to this observation about taglines: a lot of them suck.

“Suck” being a highly technical term worthy of some explanation, I can specify that too many taglines are completely devoid of any creativity, and required scant ability to develop, beyond writing someone else’s tagline on your piece of paper.

Which is a nice way of saying they’re not different. Consider the following taglines I’ve noticed in recent months:

Built for life. (Tridel)
For life. (Volvo)
Memberships for life. (AAA)
Finding answers. For life. (Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation)
For life. (Everest College)
Debt solutions. For life. (InCharge Canada)

Tridel and Volvo are the earliest entries to the for-life-a-palooza, as they started using their taglines in 1997 and 1998, respectively. So it would be difficult to blame them for lacking different thinking. And we’ll let AAA (the American Automobile Association) off the hook because they don’t operate in Canada.

That leaves Everest College and InCharge Canada as the guiltiest on this list, as it appears they first used their taglines only recently, and they haven’t even bothered to try registering them as trademarks. Next in order of guilt is the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, which first used its tagline in 2003.

If you’re going to be like these guys and not put any effort into figuring out how you’re different and then expressing that difference in a unique way, don’t bother. Or at least don’t call it branding.

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