.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Saturday, August 26, 2006

When tag lines collide—branding in home improvement

(I apologize for the long interval between posts. I was overwhelmed with projects the last few weeks.)

As I see it, a brand promise is just that—a promise. It’s the customer experience that determines whether or not it’s true. Unfortunately, many companies subscribe to the “say it and they will believe it” variety of branding. Take,
Home Depot for example, the third largest retailer in the world. They launched their current tag line— “You can do it. We can help.”—back in 2003. It’s taken them until now to realize the “We can help” part isn’t working too well.

Home Depot’s solution: Orange Juiced, their new customer-service incentive program. According to Jennifer Waters in the June 23, 2006 MarketWatch
,Home Depot has set aside $30 million to pay monthly and quarterly rewards to employees and stores that score high marks on customer-service surveys. On a quarterly basis, the best store can get up to $25,000, which the manager will determine how to spend, either by individual disbursements, a big award celebration or both. Basically, they are bribing employees to be helpful and friendly to customers.

In the same article, George Whalin, founder of Retail Management Consultants, was quoted as saying, "The problem [with the plan] is that it doesn't solve the basic, core problem of having knowledgeable people working in your stores. In recent years, Home Depot has spent very little educating people."

Lowes, the second largest hardware chain in the US behind Home Depot, decides that its old tag line, “Improving Home Improvement,” is no longer cutting it. If Home Depot stands for helping and encouraging customers with their home improvement projects, Lowes needed a message like that too. So they got one: “Let’s build something together.”

Home Depot: You can do it. We can help.
Lowes: Let’s build something together.

When you see them stacked, there’s not a lot of difference between the two lines in meaning, although I personally like Lowes’ version. It’s friendlier and implies help of a longer duration.

Of course, Lowes could have saved themselves the trouble and expense of developing a new tag line if they had only sent mystery shoppers into a few Home Depot stores. They would have learned that “We can help.” was an empty promise…and not worth copying.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A tag line with a sense of humor...

Can a pun be used as a tag line? You bet, just ask the folks at Gold Bond Products, makers of Gold Bond® Foot Powder and Gold Bond® Foot Cream. Like the good old Moon Pie people, Gold Bond hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where it’s still 1940 in some places, at least consumer-products wise. (Take a look at Gold Bond’s packaging.)

From the Gold Bond Web site:

“Since 1908, Gold Bond® has been making unique medicated products that ‘Do what they say they will do.’ This is the Gold Bond Heritage, and the reason why millions of Americans Daily look to Gold Bond to meet their skin care needs.”

From my point of view, the “Gold Bond Heritage” is more than just a legacy; it’s an explicit brand promise. But we’re here to talk about tag lines. Gold Bond has TV spots running that promote its foot powder and cream. The tag line:

Victory over de feet
It kind of takes your breath away.

By the way, I’ve looked and looked on the Gold Bond site for the foot cream they are advertising. As far as I can tell, it’s not there.

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