A brand themeline should never be clever

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

7 September 2011

Clever is ignored because it’s not believable

If there’s one thing, among many, that marketers get wrong, it’s developing a brand themeline. The purpose of a brand themeline is to set out in written language what the brand is about. It is only a representation of the brand, as the company has to live it and fulfill its promise.

But it’s still amazing to me that so many get it wrong. For one thing, it’s usually about the same values as the competition. Or worse, it’s about company itself and not the brand face of the customer.

Nike’s “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different” are the best examples of representing the brand face of the customer. AT&T’s “The world’s networking company” and Delta Airlines’ “We love to fly and it shows” are not.

“What are Trane’s “It’s hard to stop a trane” or Citibank’s “Citi never sleeps” supposed to accomplish? A hee-hee or a guffaw?”

But what really irks me is that marketers try to be clever, and clever is your enemy. Clever means you’re not serious and, therefore, your promise is not believable. It becomes a a joke, written marketing speak without the brand putting a stake in the ground for who the customers are when they use the brand.

brand themelineClever is forgettable and easily dismissed, and there are hundreds of examples of this. What are Trane’s “It’s hard to stop a trane” or Citibank’s “Citi never sleeps” supposed to accomplish? A hee-hee or a guffaw?

Citi was much better off with “Live Richly.” Nintendo’s Wii had a new technology, which is why it had a strong start. But its “Wii would like to play” killed any long-term growth.

So, please. Stay away from clever. Or you’ll be too clever for your own good. Get it? Get it? Yuk, yuk, yuk.

See more posts in the following related categories: brand taglines Brand themeline taglines


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