TM on a Cool New Listing Site –

Calling all small businesses. It’s not often that you come across a new local listing service that actually looks like it might work. But got in touch with me via a Craigslist posting (which up to that moment had just delivered only the finest spam) and I checked it out. And here is – one more great resource. Definitely worth a look if you’re looking for the best writing service online.

Tagline Machine Guest Posts R Up!

In a frenzy of self-serving blog-posting, The Tagline Machine and its Chief Mechanic, Simon Gornick are proud to announce, in our own little way, not one but two guest posts on two pretty fabtastic blogs.

Number one is a series of two on the what why and how of taglines.

Number two is a post on the ROI of Social Media which is sort of related a bit.

Hope you enjoy them, and if you do retweet, share and report glowingly on them to all your influential friends.

Can Small Businesses be Brands?

You walk into Target. Stroll around. Look down at your list. “Advil”. Turns out you’re near the right aisle. Then comes the moment of truth. Do you choose “Advil” or target brand. You know they’re identical, but you still choose Advil and pay double for the 100 caps.

That is brand value.

How much did it cost Advil to get you to choose its name brand over the generic? The answer is billions of dollars, a whole lot of marketing expertise, millions of customers and plenty of time.

That is what brand value costs.

And if ‘brand value’ is the ROI of branding, and ROI is the reason we all get up in the morning, then is it possible to brand a small business?

The answer is – you’ve guessed it, no and yes.

No, because the language of branding is the language of big brands.

Smaller brands simply can’t afford to pay for the reach that big brands need to enter the brand value dialog.

Yes, because for small brands – brand value is defined by expression of their personalities.

In simple terms, smaller brands generate their value from their magnetism. The brand value can’t be measured in pure ROI terms because there’s no generic reference point. But if people find a smaller brand attractive then its brand value is that “personality”.

Where does that personality come from?

Design, strong copywriting, quality advertising, good customer relationships, the right demographic positioning, and most importantly a product that delivers real (rather than perceived) value.

In short, creating brand value for smaller businesses is completely different to branding for large companies.

Small business branding is about the fundamentals of your business rather than perception. The bigger the brand and its reach, the more important the role of mystique.

Attempting to capture big brand mystique when you’re still at the little guy stage is putting the cart way, way, way before the horse.

For small businesses branding is about getting the foundation right. If you build all that (and it ain’t easy) maybe they’ll come. And if they do, you might be lucky enough to be the name brand at Target that people choose because they don’t trust the generic.

The word “Brand” actually has two different meanings. One is for the big guys, the other is for the little guys.

But I think we’ve tended to conflate the two, to the detriment of small business branding. Perhaps we need to add the prefix – mini – for small business branding, because it really is very different.

And more important. The top 100 global brands make all the noise, but ironically, in a world where small business drives most of the economy – it’s the little guy branding that really counts.

The Long and The Short Of Great Marketing Slogans

When I started exploring the implications of this post it led me to an interesting thesis.

The smaller and newer your brand, the more likely a longer tagline will deliver an effective marketing message.

There’s been some research into the power of the longer slogan, it’s ability to hold, captivate and explain over the more fashionable short and punchy tags that are predominating these days among bigger brands.

The bottom line is that shorter taglines carry greater risks of inspiring a consumer to do nothing at all in response. Nothing is bad enough, but the idea that a potential customer might go “uhh?” when he sees your tagline should send shivers down the spine of the branding team on the job.

The good news for us tagline specialists is that we get higher efficacy and emotional potential with more words – and – also a ton more options too. Longer taglines tend to be more on the nose, which in these literalist times might not necessarily be a bad thing. They offer more word play avenues, more opportunity for a call to action and positive reinforcement. In short, they might even make our lives a little easier.

Your Tagline is Your Motto

They are the modern equivalent of the mottos that ran underneath the family coat of arms. Both perform similar functions. They’re signage, identification, calls to bravery and fortitude.

Mottos were in just about every respect medieval branding, and in many respects the process really hasn’t changed that much. It’s still a powerful and immediate signifier, a statement that defines and differentiates.

Historically, one of the key elements of chivalry was a graphic expression of the deep competitiveness of medieval aristocracy, jockeying for favor in the court and on the battlefield, as well as asserting authority over underlings and vassals. Again, the similarities to the modern principles of branding are striking.

If you examine this template of a classic coat of arms layout, the motto is an important part of the framework – and of course the shield, supporters, wreath were crest themselves the centuries old equivalent of a logo.

In fact, the entire construct supports the core power message.

Some things just never change.