Logos and visual identity systems generate brand recognition while reinforcing the character. A brand tagline can also be used to communicate the brand’s value proposition or its attributes and benefits. But with these elements fully-deployed, what if your audience still does not fully understand the basic business services of the brand?
I recently worked with a 50-year-old company that had a very distinctive/recognizable brand logo and a well-known brand name (in their industry sector). They also had a tagline that was used on a limited basis to appeal to a specific segment of their target audience. However, it was clear to the company that the majority of their target audience either had the incorrect perception that the service offering was limited to what had been offered 10 years ago or was unclear about the range of services offered.
The solution to this problem was the creation of a strapline. These differ from a tagline in that they are a purely functional description of what a company does. For example, if a restaurant were to create a strapline it might be something like “Delicious Italian Food.” For a bank, it might be “Business & Consumer Banking Services.” Straplines have nothing to do with brand positioning, benefits, attributes or vision. They state the obvious function of the business when the obvious may not be so obvious to customers and prospects.
Straplines, unlike taglines, are always physically connected to the brand logo and usually set directly underneath it. If you already have a tagline in place there, then unlink it. Freeing up the tagline from the limited space of the “lock-up” location will allow for greater visibility of your brand message.
The best way to know if your business needs a strapline is to conduct qualitative or even quantitative research among your target audience. For the client discussed earlier, their research was qualitative. After a brief hiatus from exhibiting at industry trade shows, they participated in two major shows. At those shows the sales team had been surprised that so many prospects came to their booth to ask what the company did even though the prospects were familiar with the company name, its brand logo, and knew that the company had been around for a long time and had a good reputation. This surprise led to immediate action by the marketing communications team. They created two straplines that clearly described the two primary services offered by the company. One is used when communicating with the majority of their target audience and the other is for use with a specific high-value audience segment.
Here are a few suggestions on ways to do some quick qualitative research to see if you should consider adding a strapline to your brand identity system:
1) Do an online survey of current customers
There are many free online survey tools out there to choose from. Survey a group of trusted customers to see if they can accurately describe what the company does or can list out the services/products that you have to offer. If your customers don’t have a good idea of what you do and what you offer, then a strapline might help.
2) Ask your sales team
Customer-facing staff has a great deal of knowledge about your customers and prospects. Set up a conference call with a select number of sales team members that mixes in long-term and recently employed sales staff, as well as team members from junior and senior levels.
3) Go to a trade show
Mingle with your prospects and see what they know about your company. What you learn could surprise you.
If you find that what you thought should be an obvious statement to business prospects about your brand is not so clear, it’s time to consider applying a strapline. As the Brand Solutionist for aJuxt Media Group, I will work with your business to develop a strapline that will effectively communicate the services your business offers.
For more information, contact us now.
Written by Ira Lieberman – Brand Solutionist