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Don’t Explain Your Brand

Have you ever heard a person tell a joke so poorly they felt the need to explain it, after it fell flat?  Did you notice the explanation did NOT make the joke funnier?  The same holds true for your company.  Don’t explain your brand!  If you need to do that, it’s an indication that you’re not being clear enough to begin with.  If your aim is to be a Jester brand, you need to find ways to be TRULY humorous — not kinda-sorta humorous.

While watching a commercial for Liberty Mutual recently, I was disappointed to see they felt the need to create a commercial that EXPLAINS that “LiMu” is short for Liberty Mutual and their selection of an emu was because it rhymes with LiMu. Hmmmm.  I’m not able to find that specific commercial in their YouTube channel so I assume it didn’t go over well.  Although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with their overall campaign strategy with the new emu mascot, I would definitely recommend against explaining something that’s supposed to be humorous.

T-Shirts vs. Tattoos

Similarly, I was at a conference in Eastern Massachusetts recently and a t-shirt vendor named “Ink’d” had a booth set up to show their wares.  Clearly emblazoned on their signage and tchotchke give-aways was their slogan “Not a Tattoo Shop…”  My initial, knee-jerk reaction was the same as the LiMu commercial.  If you have to explain it, you’re doing something wrong.

[Also, let’s just set aside the quality of the slogan/tagline for now, as that’s fodder for a whole blog post all by itself!]

Take a listen to this podcast about Taglines and Slogans.

Then, I Changed My Mind

In this case, I think the explanation works … not because it’s a good idea to explain, but because it’s a tease.  You not only quickly know what they are NOT, you’re also posed with the question, “Well, what are they then?”  This question brought me back to their booth to check out their products more and to talk to them about their brand.  I let them know I’d be writing this post and the owner of the company (who came up with the slogan) should be proud of coming up with such a creative concept.

Notice the slogan does not talk about the product, the industry, or the company – which is good.  And, although the slogan is not infused with powerful archetype-based emotions like we try to do with our own clients, it succeeds on a different level and is worthy of a discussion and analysis like we’ve done here.

Let us know what you think of the Ink’d slogan or if you’ve seen other taglines/slogans that succeed in unexpected ways.



Top 100 #SocialMedia Influencer (2015, via StatSocial), speaker, brand strategist, web geek, chess nerd, upright bass newb and lover of sushi!

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