Friday, March 23, 2012

Tag Line v Positioning Statement: Difference Without Distinction?

People don't buy things; they buy meaning. Not the thing, but the essence of the thing. Revlon makes lipstick; it sells sex appeal. If automobiles were only about transportation, we'd all be driving Fords and they'd all be black.

My creative philosophy emerged from developing highly successful advertising campaigns for IT companies in the 1980's. 

In my formative years, writing direct marketing copy for high-tech companies was about translating technical features into business benefits that a non-technical audience, i.e., the CEO could grasp. It was both translating geek-speak and shifting point of view: it's not what you like, it's what makes them like you. In a word. On the mark. At a glance.
This philosophy was so beautifully articulated in a business and economics book ,"The Marketing Imagination," written by Theodore Levitt in 1986, I felt as though he had been in my head for 10 years. 

Even after all these years, this philosophy - or its impact - has not changed.

Call it the "x-factor," a synthesis of many benefits into one thought that encapsulates the essential significance of your brand to its public is a very potent position from which you can pivot to any tactic. It takes research. It reveals depth and dimension. Above all, it's the perfect "hook" for your target audience  - as straight as an arrow, as strong as a magnet.

So before I begin to conceptualize any tactic, I want to spend a lot of time developing a positioning statement.

  • What separates your brand from its competitive field?
  • What is the point of difference your brand can own?
  • What does this mean to your customers in his or her terms? 
  • What image and message communicates this in a word, at a glance, on the mark?

How is this different than a tag line?

Tag lines are a dime a dozen.  Every message evolves from dozens of strings of copy. Any string contains a tag line. But not all tag lines are equally powerful. Only one can merit the singularity of a positioning statement.

"Where's the beef?"

"Gee. I could of had a V-8!"

"Just do it."

Distinctive. Memorable Extendible. It's the one that resonates both intellectually and emotionally with your target audience, communicating the essence of their satisfaction in one fell swoop as it were.

A positioning statement like this gives your brand star power - a presence and resonance so bright it outshines all others in your field.

Let's face it. There are lots of "tag lines" out there; not many well imaged and messaged positioning statements. 

Is this is a difference without a distinction? It depends on the tag line.