Tagline Parallelism – One That Works, One That Doesn’t

Today, I was driving behind a car that had a bumper sticker advertising some company (name will be withheld pending notification of next of kin). This company had a tagline of parallel statements that stated…well, precisely nothing.

Built on Product. Powered by People.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t go through life thinking about how I need “product.” Specific products, yes – but having seen this bumper sticker, I am left without a clue as to what this company offers.

As for powered by people – is there any company yet that was begun and maintained by robots?

On the other hand, I have been spending a large amount of time lately on airplanes (due to a large volume of work in the Chicago area – one reason for my infrequent posting of late!), and when I fly, it is usually on Continental Airlines. Some years ago, that company launched an effective “parallel” tagline…

Work Hard. Fly Right.

Why does this work, while the other falls flat? Well, the Continental tagline affirms something about me – it implies that I am a hard worker. And furthermore, since I am, I deserve the best airline experience – I should “fly right.” Bingo – Continental has tapped into something aspirational.

The lesson? It’s not enough to have a cute couplet of phrases. You actually need to tap into the desires of your target audience, and say something tangible in your tagline. Because no-one goes shopping for “product”!

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Author: Steve Woodruff (19 Articles)

Steve Woodruff launched his consulting practice (Impactiviti LLC) in 2006, working with clients to create branding that sticks. StickyFigure, a division of Impactiviti, specializes in helping small and mid-sized businesses that are seeking to make greater impact in their marketplace, but do not have the internal resources to brand themselves effectively. We also partner with larger organizations that need to borrow a fresh creative perspective. Steve also actively consults in the training/communications field, with a particular focus on healthcare and pharmaceuticals; and he serves as VP Communications on the Board of a local ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) chapter in NJ. LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/swoodruff