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10 Taglines to Help U.S. Companies Compete in a Post-American World

January 13 2010

Three words. Billions of dollars. If you look at Nike revenues, the big money set in consistently after 1989, the year of the great “Just do it.” Did the words define the moment, or did they then drive the machine?

“There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” Without question, these twelve words reversed the fortunes of the brand. “Think small,” “A diamond is forever,” “Got milk?” Words you could take to the bank.

When a company makes a brand promise in a tagline, it’s committing to a relationship. With accountability. It’s a bit like saying “I do.” But to really understand what’s going on, you have to think about what a company is.

Companies start life with a birth certificate—incorporation. Growing up, they can fool around—Yahoo and Facebook are swapping corporate fluids right now. They can marry—a Comcast and NBC wedding is in the air. They can divorce—as Time Warner and AOL recently did. And they can have children like Virgin or adopt them like Diageo.

A company can violate human rights and be tried for fraud and manslaughter. And it can manipulate people’s emotions as Lever Brothers did when it invented BO to induce us to wash. In lots of ways a company is just like you and me, but with one big exception. As long as it turns a profit, it’s immortal.

Where else have we seen a society whose daily life was controlled by immortal beings? Beings whose terrifying mystery sent people scurrying to Wall Street, errr, the soothsayers? That’s right, Ancient Greece! But ask yourself, where would Zeus have been without his stated field of expertise, “King of the Gods”? Or Aphrodite, her “Goddess of Love”? Exactly. Without their taglines they would have been mere mortals.

Read more on Fast Company

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