Too Many Taglines are Tag-Alongs

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I’m not a big fan of the Geico gecko commercials.  Too cheeky and not much substance.

Except when it comes to their power position – “15 minutes can save you 15% or more on your car insurance.”  It’s perfect.  Simple, specific and provoking.

You’ve probably seen this recent commercial where the big boss has some big ideas (don’t they all) for new slogans to promote the company.   As I watched this, I couldn’t help but think of the many tagline and elevator pitch exercises I’ve seen over the years.


A lot of time, expense and fancy-pants, agency hocus-pocus goes into creating brand promises, slogans and taglines.  And, here’s the amazing irony.  Most say absolutely nothing, but at the same time they manage to say the same thing as everyone else.

No Sacrifice.  No Positioning.

Too many companies unwittingly find themselves at parity in their messaging.  Often they want to tell you everything about themselves in their brand promises, elevator pitches and mission statements.

What companies should be doing is finding their “value wedge.”  Your value wedge is that sweet spot where you do something unique or in an advantaged way that can be clearly tied back to a prospect pain point.  It’s a wedge, it’s not the whole pie.  And, that’s the power.

Let’s look at the Geico slogan.  They completely nail the prospect’s pain points, while showcasing their uniqueness.

  • 15 minutes – Hey, people don’t have time, and don’t want to make the effort to meet with insurance agents.  I had an insurance agent friend who just retired, saying he was glad he was getting out of the business as the internet was taking over.  He said, “People aren’t going to want to have a relationship with their insurance agent anymore.”  I said, “I hate to break it to you, friend, but people never wanted to have a relationship with their insurance agent.”
  • Save 15 percent or more – Everyone knows insurance is a necessary evil.  No one wants to pay more than they have to.  The thought that your insurance carrier is overcharging you is always in the back of your mind.  Car insurance is a blatant commodity.  Why overpay a middle man for adding no value to the transaction?  If you can make it easy to see if someone is ripping you off, and then painless to make a change, you have a value wedge against the competition.

What can the prospect do better or differently?

The other thing the Geico messaging does right is that it focuses on what the customer can do better, or differently, as a result of your solution.  It doesn’t talk about the insurance, what it is, or even what it does.  It talks about what you can do as a result.

I know what you are thinking.  It’s easy to create a clear, powerful slogan when you are the low-price leader.  Wal-Mart doesn’t require much imagination in their marketing, right?

The same principles apply when you are trying to maintain your prices and protect your margins.  Even as your buyers are trying to force you into a commodity trap.

We worked with a commercial cleaning company that wanted to convince multi-tenant office building owners to choose their cleaning service over the myriad of other national franchise or local options.  They created a breakthrough by tapping into the issue of staff health and absenteeism.  They approached the rental companies and showed them how they could help market the space by promoting their choice in a cleaning company.

How?  By focusing the decision on which cleaning service did the best job “cleaning for health,” not just surface cleaning the space.  Their slogan:  “Healthier clean at no extra cost.”  The landlords used it as a way to differentiate themselves when competing against other office space, explaining to potential renters how their cleaning service uses unique, proven approaches to disinfecting and avoiding cross-contamination to improve building and staff health.

Of course, the cleaning company did a lot of different things, and offered a bunch of cleaning services.  But, they were able to ride their “value wedge” to increasing deal size and close rates.

– Timothy Riesterer
CMO and SVP Strategic Consulting at Corporate Visions Inc.
Co-author of Customer Message Management