The best thing you can do to strengthen your brand is to develop a brand positioning strategy that differentiates it from competitors.*

And one of the worst things? Create an ad campaign or advertising message that doesn't align with that position. It's a sure way to confuse your customers, cause people to question your business acumen, and lose lots of money trying to recover from lost sales or market share.

When you develop a brand positioning strategy, you're taking a stand -- you're saying that you are different than any of our competitors in speed, taste, low price, quality, luxury, customer service ... fill in the blank. And often, a company's first or second execution of the creative message aligns nicely with the benefit of the brand position. Take FedEx, for example. One of its early ad campaigns incorporated the tagline, When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight, to perfectly communicate its position of overnight delivery. But along the way, someone got tired of it, and I imagine the creative team was challenged to come up with "something clever." And pretty soon, there were campaigns touting, Relax, it's FedEx or We understand. I'm glad they understand, because no one would understand the brand positioning strategy based on that tagline.

Let's look at another example, 7UP. The creative expression for its brand positioning strategy for many years was The Un-cola, pitting itself against the myriad of colas in the marketplace. Brilliant! Since then, they've triedIt's an Up Thing (vague), Make 7UP Yours (offensive, especially the T-shirts that have Make 7 on the front and UP Yours on the back), and nowRidiculously Bubbly (aren't all sodas?). Somewhere in the cleverness, the company lost sight of its position (and unfortunately dropped off the list of top 10 soft drinks).

Domino's Pizza, the third and last example, has been all over the map with the creative depiction of its brand positioning strategy throughout the pizza chain's history. Domino's has always been about delivery, and how quickly it can get the pizza to your house. Some of the taglines that communicated that effectively were Domino's Delivers, You got 30 minutes, and Get the door. It's Domino's. But how about Avoid the Noid, Bad Andy, Good Pizzaand, now, Oh yes we did, as it tries to replicate Papa John's position? Those do nothing to inform customers about the benefits of the brand position, and in my estimation, will eventually hurt the value of the brand because of the confusion they create.

As we at Innis Maggiore always say, "a brand can only stand for one thing in the mind of the consumer." And if the creative expression in your advertising aligns closely with your brand positioning strategy, the clarity of that message has a much better chance of penetrating through all the marketing clutter that's out there.<
Here are some all-time favorite taglines that do a commendable job of aligning creativity with the brand positioning strategy:

    • Like a Rock. Chevy Trucks
    • It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin.' Timex
    • Can you hear me now? Verizon Wireless
    • Think different. Apple
    • We try harder. Avis
    • The ultimate driving machine. BMW
    • A diamond is forever. De Beers
    • Think outside the bun. Taco Bell
    • Nothing runs like a Deere. John Deere
    • The quicker, picker-upper. Bounty

*We can help you with that.

Jeff Monter is Innis Maggiore's Principal Creative Services.