Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Power of Power.

Tag lines are funny things.

They do something for a brand or nothing for a brand. They can come to you in a logical flash or they can be a stone bitch to write.

There is a good column by Al Ries about tag lines in Ad Age (sorry it's a month old, but I been busy, you know?). He makes a great argument for longer tag lines. For example, while "Take charge" is an ineffective short tag line (American Express), "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken" (Perdue) is a terrific long one.

The reason tag lines can be hell to write is the same reason logos can be hell to design. Sometimes, clients expect too much of them. "We need a tag line/logo that shows our history, commitment to the customer, the fact that we make 12 varieties of widgets and reflects our values". That that kind of thing. And, while my example is a little extreme, everybody in this business has some variation on it to share if they're a mind to.

Years ago at a creative conference, I saw a presentation by Larry Postaer that was built around the premise that not every client needed a tag line; that very often, the logo is the most effective tag line of all.

That has stuck with me. Especially when I have found myself creating advertising that needed the tag line to explain the damn thing (which told me right there what I'd created was inadequate) or had clients start right in saying they needed a tag line before any other thinking has been done (maybe they did and maybe they didn't).

Personally, I hate obtuse tag lines. Like anything out there today that refers to the "Power of (insert confusing word here)". "The Power of Go" was never one of my favorites. Then again, since we all know I'm am idiot, maybe I just didn't get it. Of course, a tag line ought to be pretty easy to "get", I think. Like "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight." (Which unfortunately, FedEx doesn't use any more. Now they use "We understand" whatever the f*** that is supposed to mean.)

Anyway, I commend the article to you out there in WhereverTheHellYouAre Land. It's a good read. And one advantage me being so late on this (look, I done told you I been busy) is the collection of comments that follow it. One I like the very best is by "sschildwachter of Chicago".

"One of my colleagues distinguishes between "simple" and "simple enough". "Raid kills bugs" is simple. "Raid kills bugs dead" is simple enough."


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