I was reading an extensive survey to measure the impact of advertising slogans. Among the slogans and advertising tag lines for 22 of the biggest U.S. advertisers, only 6 were recognized by more than 10% of the consumers surveyed.
In other words, not even 1 out of 10 consumers could correctly identify 90% of the slogans. 16 of the 22 advertisers had slogans no one knew – each spending more than 100-million dollars a year advertising them!
Three of these much advertised slogans scored 0% recognition. 0%!
Take the test, see if you can name any of the big, dumb companies that match these slogans:
- We’re With You
- That Was Easy
- The Stuff Of Life
Only Wal-Mart’s “Always Low Prices” was recognized by 64% of the consumers tested. (And by the way, if you can’t have the lowest prices, you might as well be the highest. Not much cache in “Almost Always Almost Lowest Prices Most Days”.)
Those faring poorly, like #1 above, argued that they’d only been advertising their slogan for YEARS!!!! – and, quote, “it takes time to build brand identity.” #3’s spokesman justified their disaster as “ only a transitional slogan”, stating they were moving toward yet another new brand-focused identity, whatever the beejeezus that is. Translation: new slogan being thunk up.
The real laughter is that the copy of this article was from USA TODAY’s web site, and at its end, two companies paid to advertise their services, doing, yep, “corporate branding.”
Is A Slogan A Brand? Isn’t A Slogan just Like A USP?
No, a slogan is not a brand, and these results are not exactly an indictment of all brand-building approaches.
For example, the kind of “personal branding” I teach encompasses more than a slogan, and is usually more targeted to a market.
However it’s easy to have that go awry and wind up with branding that looks good but does nothing. There’s a tightrope to walk there, and it’s easy to fall off. Most ad agency types do.
A slogan is definitely NOT a USP, although it can represent, telegraph or at least be congruent with a USP in your small business marketing.
Actually, Wal-Mart’s is the only slogan in all the ones tested via this survey that enunciates a USP. It is, not coincidentally, the only effective slogan. The others not only fail the Dan Kennedy USP Question#1 (Why should I, your prospect, choose to do business with you versus any and every other option?), they also are so generic they could be used by anybody.
For example, “That Was Easy” could certainly work for Boston Market – how easy it is to put a ‘home cooked’ dinner on the family table, or for DiTech – how easy it is to get a home loan.
Warning: if anybody and everybody can use your USP, it ain’t one.
If any and every Tom, Dick and Mary can use your slogan, why on earth would you want it?
In each of these cases, the minute the ad agency charlatans revealed these slogans in the corporate clients’ boardrooms, the CEO’s should have stood up, pulled out a gun, shot one of them somewhere it would really hurt and bleed a lot but not kill him, and yelled “Next.”
This is the kind of chronic stupidity I encountered when working with big, dumb companies like Weight Watchers and Mass Mutual. (Incidentally, Weight Watchers could use any of the above three dead bang loser slogans. Mass could use two of them. And probably would.)
Every company behind these losers had a spokesperson ready with an excuse. Nobody said, truthfully, “We’re idiots.”