Ever see or hear something from a business and thought “that seems familiar”? I think it happens all the time. Perhaps we’re not paying attention and actually reflect upon it right then, but subconsciously it may trigger thoughts of another time, place or even brand. Now we may not run right out and purchase goods from those companies that are triggered in the back of our mind, but the subconscious mark of that brands is still there, and later on we just might.
A few weeks ago I walked into a restaurant not far from my home, and in seconds noticed their slogan painted on the back wall (pictured in the header). After reading it I immediately thought of another brand that has used something similar for decades. A company that produces and distributes a product that I have enjoyed a few times and have frequented their establishment on occasion in Lawrence. If you guessed Free State Brewery then you would be correct, their slogan (below) has been printed on countless tee shirts and is prominently displayed on their website.
Another ad that comes to mind, is played on my favorite AM Sports channel 610 and uses this slogan “Better parts, Better prices, Everyday”. Now if you thought of Papa John’s then you are like me, every time I hear that line I think of the Papa John’s slogan “Better ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa John’s” and completely distracts me from the actual advertiser, which is O’Reilly Auto Parts. The wording and structure are just too similar in my opinion and becomes a subliminal promotion of another brand. How about the use of “You’ll love the way…”? Do you finish the line with “we fly” which is Delta, or “you look” Men’s Warehouse? This is why being original and creating your own identity when marketing your brand is extremely important and should come from the soul of your company.
Sometimes companies will use a line or phrase from the entertainment industry instead of using their own creativity. Office Depot once used the popular line “Taking care of business”. Did they actually drive business to their stores, or did they prompt people to crank up the famous Bachman-Turner Overdrive album and rock out? Some Belushi fans may have even decided to watch the 1990 epic film Taking Care of Business instead of going to buy paper for the printer; doubt it on that one, but it’s possible. The point of this example is that when Office Depot used that line as their slogan, the first thing we thought about was not office supplies.
What about companies that use the exact same slogan? How are they differentiating themselves and bringing business to their door? Wendy’s and Sprint PCS have used the same slogan “Now that’s better”; Wendy’s currently is. This makes me think of those ridiculous media outlets that put pictures of the same dress on two different women side by side, give their little snippets of judgment and ask, “who wore it better?”. Not that myself or anyone reading this blog is thinking about women in dresses when they see or hear a Wendy’s commercial, but the fact is that someone has or is using the exact same tag line as your company, and it’s unoriginal.
Another mistake some companies have made is tying in your competitions brand into their marketing like DHL did. DHL used the slogan “Yellow is the new brown”, a play off of UPS’ identity “Brown” and their slogan “what can brown do for you?”. Using your competitions identity in your marketing is counter productive in many ways. How many people saw or heard yellow is the new brown and thought “I need to get that package over to the UPS store soon”? Perhaps people who heard it saw it as a form of mud slinging; prominent in politics and rarely useful. Furthermore DHL probably didn’t do themselves any favors using that campaign cause when they went to UPS to create an agreement that would allow them to use UPS’ airlift capabilities within the United States, UPS played hardball and the agreement could not be reached possibly losing them millions. I’m not saying that was the reason the agreement failed, but it probably didn’t help.
So when creating a slogan for your company, be original and use your company’s heart as your message. Do not be lazy and use material that is already already exists, is wildly recognizable, or could potentially shoot yourself in the proverbial foot.