The importance of a strong strapline

The best messages are simple ones: easy to communicate and easy to remember. A good strapline is a great example of this principle, something that’s distinctive and memorable. But it’s great if they mean something too. If they can tell your story, even it if it’s only part of it.

This week Avis, the car rental firm, have reintroduced their famous strapline ‘We try harder’. It was first used in the 60’s, when Avis were competing with Hertz, the market leader. It was used to highlight the fact that because they’re not number one in car rentals they have to try harder to win customers. They have to go the extra mile. As a message it worked. Avis’ market share increased from 11% to 34% in four years.

But it worked because it was true. They did try harder. The strapline was a reflection of the values within the business. It did mean something. It did tell (part of) their story.

If you’re an established business you may well have an established strapline. So how well does it tell your story? If you’re still building your business you may want to consider role your strapline plays. Does it help you to stand out from your competitors?

When we’re working with clients on straplines we consider two extremes: ‘Descriptive’ at one end, and ‘Aspirational’ at the other. And in between them is a combination of the two.

A ‘Descriptive’ strapline is something very practical, that describes exactly what the company does; ‘Plumbing and heating engineers’ or ‘Accountants and Financial Planners’. Useful, but not usually very exciting.

An ‘Aspirational’ strapline is usually offering customers a vision to aspire to; Nike’s ‘Just do it’ or Apple’s ‘Think different’. Exciting, but vague (and easier to carry off if you have a global presence).

Somewhere in the middle is a combination of the two. A phrase that describes what you do, but adds to that a description of how you do it; Natwest’s ‘Helpful banking’ is a good example.

By adding some ‘aspiration’ to you strapline, you’re adding some meaning to the statement. You’re beginning to tell your story, what it is that makes you different. And if you want customers to choose you and not the competition, that’s a good way to start.

If you’d like to know more about making your business distinctive and memorable, drop us an email, or call us on 01392 248107. It would be great to hear from you.


Photo: Flickr-Atomic Taco   ©Creative Commons