Taglines and The Fruit Cocktail Effect.


Quality, commitment, character are qualities for which any company would be proud to be known.  Ironically, those three words as a tagline are a problem. I’ve ranted before about three unconnected word taglines and this morning listening to a radio spot was once again reminded.  

MB Haines, an Asheville area heating, air conditioning and refrigeration contractor, has been serving area for over 100 years. Not a bad feat seeing as in 1925 only half of all homes in the U.S. had electricity.  They must be doing a lot right.  That said, if you were to ask all the businesses in the country if quality, commitment and character are business fundamentals, all would say yes.

The problem is not that these are their values, the problem is they don’t work as a tagline. At What’s The Idea?, we advise clients to brand around one claim and three proof planks. MB Haines has the proof planks right, just not the claim. A claim — an overarching statement that covers the three values — is what’s lacking.  I’m not going to go on about information overload, but believe me it’s hard enough to own one brand position. Three is way, way too many.

And frankly, lofty words like quality, commitment and character are so over-used in advertising that they have almost become commodities.  

MB Haines, however, does a good job proving its three values. For instance, “100 years in business” shows commitment. An employee-owned company shows commitment. If I dug deeper I could find lots of examples of quality and character. This company is not built upon a tag cloud of copy and keywords. There’s here here.    

Brand strategy locates a brand in one spot. A spot that meets customer care-abouts and brand good-ats. A tagline is best when it highlights that one spot.

Brand strategy is hard work — often succumbing to the “Fruit Cocktail Effect.”  (Google it using quote marks.) It needn’t with a little brand planning.