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”!