On a recent visit to New York City my colleagues and I were amazed by “branding” gone madTM in North America.
When I say “branding” I mean “put a strapline on everything and trademark itTM.”
There is a trademarked strapline on EVERYTHING. The ultimate bus rideTM. Flush with prideTM. Breathe deepTM. ExhaleTM. WalkTM. Don’t WalkTM. One WayTM. Do Not EnterTM. Cashpoint BlissTM. Sorry I fartedTM. And the made up words are hitting here in the UK too — Woolite is now talking about “Soft-tergentTM”.
It’s as if every company has said, “Right, we need a compelling brand essenceTM that doubles as a strapline, and we need it NOWTM. If it can be a made up wordTM, or a common usage phrase, all the betterTM.”
(And, of course, they are all trademarked. Grrr. Don’t EVEN get me startedTM…).
The prevailing attitudeTM seems to be that in order to make the required “emotional connection with the brandTM” outrageous and scarcely believable claims, or strange new wordsTM, are required.
Soon, you will be unable to utter a sentence, or you will be suedTM:
BUSINESSMAN (takes off hat): “Hi honey, I’m homeTM. What a day at the officeTM! I worked like a dogTM. Dead on my feetTM!”
THE WIFE (with slippers and a cocktail): “You look tiredTM! Take a load offTM and set yourself downTM. Look after yourselfTM! You’re working too hardTM! Have a breakTM!”
Actually, I just realised that last one is in fact a trademark of Nestle Corporation.
This is what happens when the theory of brand management outstrips the development and delivery of product and service excellence — a world where ‘cut through’ is everything. David Taylor (Where is the sausage?) argues that you have to start with a great product/service in a world of branding gone wild, and he is absolutely right.
All that these junior brand managers and marketing directors are going to accomplish in the long term is increasing audience cynicism about marketing communication, and reducing (or challenging) the ability of genuinely great brands to shine. On the other hand, maybe they won’t have to — brands without straplines.TM
I jokingly said this to a colleague last week … “No strapline requiredTM”. Many a truth is revealed in jest — a brand than needs a strapline is a weak brand?