Is Your Brand Effective? Take the Slogan Line Test


Do you have a clearly defined brand position or just a catchy slogan with little product positioning behind it? In last week’s column, I talked about the specific differences between a slogan and a brand.  A slogan is not a brand. The job of a slogan is to clearly convey the brand position, not to drive it.  The branding process should identify a laser-focused brand position first, then establish a slogan line to concisely convey the essence of that brand.  A brand will clearly describe either the rational or emotional attachment to the viewer – not spout a list of product attributes. 

Every product line has a brand, but a slogan line is optional.  As a matter of fact, most products don’t have slogans. 

You Do Not Own Your Brand
Brand positions can be influenced by advertising, but customers ultimately decide a product’s brand.  Much to her chagrin, Britney Spears has a very defined brand position.

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful branding force on the planet.  Without any advertising, Mother Teresa, Hitler, Congress, Santa, Hippies, and God all have incredibly defined brand positions.  Advertising can facilitate a branding position, but it cannot drive it.  Customers do that.

Sometimes a brand agrees with the company line and other times it doesn’t.  For example, the delivery service DHL has a very established brand position – that of being unreliable and only used by companies that will tolerate bad service to save a few bucks.  DHL is spending millions on advertising trying to convince customers that this well established brand is wrong.

Slogans are a Brand Moniker, not a Brand
Slogans are an add-on to a strong brand position.  They are meant to encapsulate and heighten the branding’s core emotional drivers.
-Nike has a brand of tenacity and perseverance.  Its slogan is “Just do it.”
-Best Buy has a brand of helpful advice and making the complex simple.  Its slogan is, “Thousands of possibilities.  Get yours.”
-Motorola has a brand of cool and hip style that connects people in innovative new ways.  Its slogan is “Hello Moto.”

So test your brand….
One on one, ask each person in your department to describe the station’s brand position in two sentences or less.  If the person recites the slogan line back to you, ask them “what does that really mean?”  Listen carefully to the things they include, and even more importantly, the things they leave out.  Here is what to look for:

1) Do you hear consistency from the entire staff?
Do you get many different answers or is the staff accurately describing your brand position? Most people will simply repeat your slogan, but not understand the meaning behind the phrase.

2) How quickly do they answer?
Does it roll right off their tongue or do they struggle to figure it out?

3) Do you get different answers from different departments?
Does the newsroom have one view of the station and the promotion department has another?  What about sales, engineering and production?

4) Are the manager’s answers different than those of the rank and file?
Can the managers quickly spout the correct answers but the photographers have difficulty?  Can the people in the traffic department correctly answer the question? Great stations enroll everyone in the station, not just the management team.

5) Do they merely describe “price of entry” news features?
Are they describing attributes that are common to most stations in the market?  For example, “We provide the most accurate weather and keep people safe,”  or “We cover breaking news and get viewers information quickly.”  These are true of most every station in the country.  Analyze their answers from the vantage point of the viewer, not the newsroom.  Would the average news viewer affirm that the person’s statement would work for most any station in the market?

6) Do they just describe the product, or do they talk about the customer?
If you are the investigation station do they solely describe your in-house process?  For example, “We have the largest investigative team in the state and we hunt down government waste and corruption.”  Or, do they describe how their investigations are changing the lives of victimized people and making the city a safer place to live?  Do they mention the viewer at all, or is the brand all about an in-house view of the world?

If you were to ask the delivery company UPS the same question, they would not talk about delivering packages.  They would talk about joining with their customers as a team to make the clients’ businesses more efficient.  They would talk about providing expertise and services that grow the customers’ businesses to new levels.  They would talk about facilitating the dream of every business person – to carefully grow their business and be a success. 

Watch how they live that customer-focused brand in their advertising:
Ad #1
Ad #2
Parody Ad

UPS isn’t a delivery company.  UPS is a business coach and partner that just happens to be in the shipping business.  Are you an empowering force for your audience that just happens to be in the news business?  Or are you in the TV business just to harvest an audience for advertisers?

7) Do they simply spit out a long list of buzz words?
Using consistent imagery and copy points are important parts of any brand, but does the staff have an understanding of the brand position that goes beyond a laundry-list recitation of research points?  Great brands will use these words to masterfully craft emotionally driven imagery that wins the head and the heart of the audience. They will use these words as a beginning and a guide to build a brand, not as the brand itself.   They will not insult the viewer’s intelligence and bludgeon them with endless repetition.

If your team doesn’t score as well as you would like on this little quiz, it’s time to get busy.  First of all, come up with a one-page brand position statement. 

The first few paragraphs of the document should not be about you.  It should clearly describe how your brand will affect the viewer.  It should talk about their priorities, emotional needs, fears, hopes, etc.  It should describe how your brand will relate to them on a human level. 

Watch out for toothless descriptions in this section such as “we want to help the people in our community be their best and protect their families.”  This section should take a real stand and get beyond generalities.  A good example would be: “Our priority is helping stressed out people who are time starved and overburdened.  They feel like they are constantly neglecting their families, their careers, and themselves.”

The last part of the document should not describe your product.   It should describe how your coverage will serve the needs of the people at the top of the page.  Remember, just because you think a news feature is cool doesn’t mean it is important to the viewer.  “We will cover lots of breaking news” is not a product brand position.  “Our product will showcase the adventure, danger and voyeurism of fast-breaking news” is a description that better describes the emotion and tone of a breaking news brand position.

–Graeme Newell, President, Graeme is a broadcast and cable marketing consultant who specializes in relationship branding using core emotional drivers.  He guarantees that his teasing seminar will immediately increase your news ratings or his workshop is free.  Find out more here.