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Above: The Chase Manhattan Bank's 'The right relationship is everything' tagline positions it uniquely amongst banks in its market

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    continued Branding your business

    Positioning
    The second and equally important component of branding is a verbal one. It is often referred to as a tagline or a positioning statement, an example of which is given above in context of the Citibank logo description. Other examples of well-known taglines include ‘Built Ford Tough’, ‘Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline’, and ‘The right relationship is everything’ (the latter of the Chase Manhattan Bank).
       The tagline is usually used in conjunction with the logo and business name in all promotional materials, from business cards to web sites. This, once again, ensures consistency and continuity of both visual and verbal image the company presents to its customers. An effective positioning statement should:

    • be as unique as the company logo. However, in this context, the meaning of ‘unique’ is slightly different. The positioning statement is usually based on something marketers call a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), i.e. the quality of the product or service that is unlike any other, especially competing, product or service. Simply stated, this means that a business owner or manager has to be able to definitively identify that one quality which makes his or her product different from the rest. Incidentally, this often proves very difficult. A lot of smaller businesses tend to lean toward generic statements such as ‘Your neighbourhood _____’ (fill in the blank with ‘grocer’, ‘florist’, or anything, really). Clearly, such a statement cannot possibly be effective, as it is not unique enough to be remembered. Further, any other business in the same neighbourhood could claim the same. Examples of effective taglines from two competing companies have already been given above: Citibank is the bank that never sleeps, whereas Chase is the one that places high emphasis on personal relationships. These two companies, while being in the same industry and providing essentially the same services, have managed to set themselves apart from one another by describing the one thing that makes them unique;
    • be brief and memorable. A tagline should never be a paragraph long, and even a sentence is often too much for a time-constrained consumer to remember. As such, a business owner should attempt to word his or her message as a short, catchy, memorable phrase;
    • be honest. This has as much to do with being able to come through on your promises as it does with potential false advertising claims. Whatever you decide your unique quality is, be prepared to deliver on that promise. An interesting example of a tagline that flopped is presented by Domino’s Pizza, with its short-lived guarantee to deliver take-out orders in less than 30 minutes. That marketing tactic, while very appealing to the franchise’s consumers, didn’t last for very long. According to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, hundreds of claims had been filed against the pizza maker by motorists and others who alleged that their injuries were caused by company delivery drivers who, in an attempt to fulfil the company’s promise to its customers, were said to speed and drive negligently or recklessly. This did not stop with allegations; a St Louis, Mo. Circuit Court jury returned a US$78 million punitive damages award against Domino’s Pizza, and the company dropped its fast-delivery policy. Without addressing the potential financial implications, something like this happening to a small business could be a disaster from a public relations perspective—it can forever ruin its credibility.

    In addition to the above, some of the criteria used when deciding on a logo, such as target audience appeal and the ability to withstand the test of time, are also applicable here. Finally, although a business owner may be able to determine what the positioning statement would be, he or she may not be able to articulate it in a manner of a professional copywriter or marketing consultant. As such, it is also beneficial to consider bringing in outside help when working on this aspect of branding—and this person can further collaborate on development of future promotions, thus ensuring the continuity of message and tone that is the main goal of branding.

    Some words of caution
    Just as all good things in life, successfully branding a business costs money and takes time. Money tends to be the reason why many small business owners choose the do-it-yourself approach; however, bear in mind that the professional help suggested above doesn’t have to come at ad agency prices. In today’s environment, technological advancements have enabled many communications specialists to establish freelance consulting practices which offer the same high level of service at a much lower cost. So, when looking for a designer or copywriter to help with your logo and tagline, not to mention many other promotional materials your business may need, don’t forget to consider the freelance alternative.
       With the advent of internet-based listing services that cater specifically to such needs, locating freelance talent is now easier than ever. Just for the sake of naming a couple of examples, the Designers’ Network (designers-network.com) is an online database of small firms and freelance graphic designers, and Guru.com is a service with a broader specialization, providing access to writers, marketing consultants and a variety of other talented freelance professionals in all geographic areas.
       It is important to remember that it will take a while for the repeated exposure of your business name, logo, and tagline to register and become memorable with your potential customers. So, do not expect results overnight.
       However, do rest assured. It is a proven fact that businesses that have a coherent branding strategy do better than those that don’t in the long term. And that is well worth some up-front investment and waiting time. Julia Ptasznik

    Julia Ptasznik is an honours’ graduate (BFA) and a faculty member of the Advertising–Graphic Design department of the New York, USA-based Fashion Institute of Technology. She has written and presently teaches a course on Professional Practices to upper-class design students. In addition to being the editor of Visual Arts Trends, a quarterly "state of the industry" report and an online source of information for the creative professional (http://www.VisualArtsTrends.com/), Julia is a freelance consultant specializing in marketing strategy development, copywriting, and graphic design. Her portfolio includes work for companies and organizations such as the United Nations, Buick, Bertolli USA, Sprint PCS, The Fragrance Foundation and Domino's Pizza. Prior to starting her own business, Julia has worked on both client and agency sides, most recently as director of communications of an international trading firm, Atwood Richards Inc., which has offices in 32 countries. Her previous experience includes working on design projects for the US Open Tennis Tournament, well-known apparel industry brands such as Bonjour, and varied toy packaging accounts. Contact editor@visualartstrends.com.

     

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    Copyright ©2000 by Julia Ptasznik. This edition copyright ©2001 by JY&A Media, a division of Jack Yan & Associates. All rights reserved.