By: Scott Seroka
Think, just for a brief moment about the following statements: Impossible is nothing. The end of late fees. The start of more. What’s your problem? Why fool around with anyone else?
The above were taglines used by Adidas, Blockbuster Video, FileMaker Pro and FedEx, respectively. Some in use longer than others. The only one still remaining is Adidas, and people don’t really understand what Impossible is nothing, means.
Unfortunately, this is what happens when trying to be cute, clever and creative gets in the way of what a tagline is really meant to do – provide a succinct, memorable statement that sums up the essence of a brand.
If you are reading this blog, you may know that coming up with a tagline that sums up the essence of your brand in a way that differentiates you from your competition can be challenging. After all, don’t all mortgage companies and real estate brokerages fundamentally offer near identical products and services?
This is precisely where you need to change your mindset, because the essence of your brand is not what your company does.
What your company “does” is make loans or sell real estate and maybe even offer financial services – pretty straightforward, Right?
The essence of your brand, however, answers the most important question clients ask: Why should I do business with you?
What is the essence of your brand? Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s walk through the process of how to answer this question in a way that is both compelling and easy-to-understand. This will require thoughts and insights beyond those immediately around you in your marketing department or executive team. Others within your company and some of the people you do business with will express it in ways you may not have thought of.
Here are some steps you can take to help you uncover and identify the essence of your brand.
Step 1: Talk to your employees and get their thoughts about your brand, either through personal one-on-ones, or if you have a staff of more than thirty, through a brief online questionnaire pre-empted by a letter or email requesting their insights.
Step 2: Talk to your customers to learn what they like the most about working with you. And, as long as you have their attention, ask how you could improve your relationship with them.
Step 3: Compile the results of everything you discovered in steps 1 and 2 above, share with your leadership team and start the process of defining your value propositions. Strong value propositions are:
- Based on facts, ideally supported with evidence of performance.
- Statements describing the value you bring to your customers. (e.g., Instead of simply saying “We exceed client expectations,” it would be much more meaningful to say, “Through our servant-leadership culture, we always do everything possible to meet and exceed our client’s expectations.”)
- Relevant to client needs
- Achievable, even in times of stress
For this step, consider retaining a good meeting facilitator. He or she will be skilled in the art of navigating the meeting in a way that gets the best insights from your group. We at Seroka can help you with this.
Step 4: Once your value propositions have been defined, you should notice a theme. This theme will point you toward the essence of your brand and what it is all about. Use this theme to create a compelling tagline your clients will be able to bond with and understand.
Step 5: Validate your tagline. Leverage the relationships you have with your customers and key stakeholders to obtain their reactions and thoughts. Your tagline should resonate well with at least 2/3 of those you interview. A word of caution: If prospective customers need to think about what your tagline means, you’ll probably lose them in less than a few seconds. And another word of caution, just in case you were thinking about it…Do not utilize focus groups for tagline validation. Here are four reasons why:
- 1. There’s a high probability you’ll have a dominant personality in the group swaying the opinions of others.
- 2. Most people don’t reveal their true feelings in front of strangers.
- 3. Consumers react to brands, taglines and marketing messages through their own internal dialogue versus having a dialogue with a probing facilitator.
- 4. Most people in focus groups aren’t in the market for what the brand is selling and are therefore unable to provide authentic feedback.
Just remember, don’t make the mistake of letting cutesy and clever get in the way of substance, meaning and value. Your tagline is your leading brand statement and a promise you are making to your clients. If you follow these five steps, you’ll emerge with a tagline your customers will value!