Everyone loves a good quote. Seriously. Whether it’s wisdom being passed on in the form of an eloquent phrase, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17), a funny statement, “No brains, no headaches,” (Zach Galifianakis, Out Cold), or something that may not even necessarily mean anything to you, but simply sounds cool, like “Ay carumba!” (Bart Simpson) For the record, I know that last one is used in a state of shock in the Spanish language, but I’m guessing most Americans who say it have no idea what it means.
Quotes are a huge part of every day life. From the advertising tag line to the Facebook update. Speaking of which, with the advent of social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc, quotes have become more popular than ever, being passed along through updates, posts, comments and tweets.
As an advertising copywriter, your goal (and mine) is to create one of these marvelous one-liners that resonates with people in such a way that not only does your catch-phrase, tag line, or slogan come to the mind of your consumer when they see your brand, but that your same line is thought about during every day life when the right emotion is struck, whether your brand is there or not. It should evoke emotion, whether it is playful, humorous, pensive, thoughtful or even frightening, a la Michelin’s, “Because so much is riding on your tires”. Now that’s one hell of a phrase. I don’t have kids yet and I can already tell that when I do, and I pack my minivan full of my loved ones, that phrase will pass through my mind. And maybe I’ll buy four of Michelin’s best tires. Maybe I won’t. But the point is that they are on my mind in a situation that I normally wouldn’t be thinking about tires or safety.
Tag lines are fun when done correctly. But it’s not all just sitting with your feet up in a conference room throwing a football back and forth with your partner until lightning strikes. There is research that must be done. There is strategy that must be followed. There is understanding that must be found. Once you find that little piece of a company that stands out from the rest . . . just one little piece that makes it better, stronger, more interesting, sexier, more appealing, whatever . . . once you’ve found that, then it’s just semantics. Find the right way to say that little diamond in the rough that you’ve uncovered. Because every company’s got something.
Hell, Avis found their differentiator by looking at market share. “At Avis, we’re #2, so we try harder!” I’d like to meet the genius who said, “Let’s tell everyone that we’re #2!” Honestly. It’s brilliant! I’d also be really interested to see the initial reaction of the creative director when that copywriter pitched it. And of Avis’ marketing team when their ad agency pitched the idea to them. But it worked. It was an amazing idea and a unique campaign. And it was all because they didn’t half-ass their strategy session by talking about the same old rental car topics. They could have said, “Well, we have a huge selection of cars. And our people are nice. Our prices are very fair too!” But they looked beyond the typical Sunday newspaper quarter-page ad copy and found something that made their brand stand out. But what happens if that campaign works too well? If they get to #1, they’ve gotta restart everything?
My point is that tag lines are the most fun, creative, and rewarding thing an advertising copywriter can create. It’s your opportunity to put a stamp on someone else’s brand. Marking your territory, at least for a while. But again, it’s not just spit-balling. It takes time, effort, and real dedication to create your messaging strategy. But once that is in place, get creative! Create something that people will quote on Facebook for years to come!
Make it count!