Being in the business that we are, we find ourselves trying to stay on top of what’s going on in the wild, wonderful world of marketing. In order to stay relevant, we need our advertisers to get a real impact out of what they are trying to get across to our readership, and we know that success in that regard is not only measured by immediate returns to the cash register for our clients, but also by the names of their companies staying fresh in people’s minds.
One consistent consideration in marketing a business is “branding” — building and maintaining a link between the business that is marketing itself in our paper and the people who one day might require those services. If you have a HVAC company, for instance, it is important that you establish an undeniable connection for the people in your area. If somebody has an air conditioning unit go down on them in the middle of July, successful branding on your part would lead them to think immediately of your company and you’ll get the call.
Of course, businesses aren’t the only entity that turns to branding. Several years ago, the State of Delaware turned to “Delaware: It’s Good Being First. The First State.” This hammers home two points: First, that Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution. Second, that Delaware is pretty boring at coming up with slogans.
Boring, yes, but also prolific. We have seen Delaware over the years get behind “Smaller, Faster, Smarter” to describe the state’s education system, and “Home of Tax Free Shopping” to describe, well, tax-free shopping. The state has also rallied behind “The Diamond State,” “The Blue Hen State,” “New Sweden” and “Who You Know is More Important Than What You Know.”
To be fair, I might have completely made up that last one, but it does serve to brand the way things often get done here, doesn’t it?
I don’t really mean to pick on Delaware here. I love living here, and it’s not like the state has the market cornered on boring or flat-out bad slogans. Not by a long shot.
A recent article on news.com.au discussed some bad slogans around the world — and, maybe more importantly, how these slogans have been received.
One that truly stuck out to me was Hong Kong several years ago, when they came up with “Hong Kong: It will take your breath away.”
Obviously, that was intended to express the notion that the natural beauty of the region would leave you searching for breath, but consider the timing of the release of the slogan — it was released at the same time SARS broke out through the nation.
Panama released a new slogan last year: “It Will Never Leave You.” The travel blog Jaunted asked people what they thought of when they heard the slogan. The most popular answer? “Unlike How Mommy Left Daddy.”
Queanbeyan, a city in New South Wales, came up with “Country living, city benefits.” The problem is that locals jumped on the slogan and unofficially changed it to “Country living, unemployment benefits.”
Woolgoolga, a city on the coast of New South Wales, once had the slogan “A hard name to say, but a great place to stay.” That’s pretty clever in my eyes, until someone decided to change it to “A hard name to say, but a great place to live.” I see what they’re doing here, but, yeah. Just not as catchy, and a little pathetic.
Wales has also come up with the concise slogan of “The Big Country.” Short. Direct. Full of pride. The only problem is that Wales is, in fact, a small country. This would be like diminutive Point graphic artist Tom Maglio walking around with a tag from a big-and-tall shop hanging off his wee little jacket — not really fooling anybody, but we appreciate the effort.
In a smilar vein, you have Israel’s “Size doesn’t matter!” campaign. This is a family paper, so I’m just going to leave that one hanging out there for you to digest. Rest assured, there are about 174 jokes I can think of right off the top of my head for that slogan, and many of them come at my own expense.
Look, branding is an excellent tool, and slogans can often play a big part in promoting what one wants to get out to the public. For instance, Las Vegas hit gold with “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” and “The Big Apple” will always be synonymous with New York. But think it out first, like I did with the new slogan for my column.
“The best way to waste 10 minutes of your week.” Catchy, no?