In the midst of today’s increasingly commoditised economy, companies are striving to differentiate themselves. And to leave no stone unturned, the corporations are even shedding their earlier baseline – the philosophy that they believed in, something that they stood for and are instead adapting a new philosophy, a new driving force.
A few recent examples being – Sony, which changed its tagline from ‘It’s a Sony’ to ‘Like no other’; Philips, too, moved from ‘Let’s make things better’ to ‘Sense and Simplicity’. In line with these, Castrol, too, added a new line ‘Liquid Engineering’; and VIP’s new slogan is ‘Happy Journey’, thus moving on from ‘Kal bhi Aaj bhi..’
With such renovations or innovations, whatever one decides to call it, is shifting and changing baselines worth the effort? The effort of communicating to the customers of the new positioning, new branding and does it ensure success, progressive and or of the same level?
Said Anand Halve, Co-founder, Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy, “There cannot be a simple answer to comment on the reasoning of a company adopting a new baseline and whether it ensures success. Many companies for years have avoided having any baseline, especially the Japanese ones… so my point being a baseline is a statement, which communes what the company stands, and not having one doesn’t mean that the company does not have a philosophy guiding it. The best example is Merrill Lynch, which stood without a baseline for 50 years.”
Many a times companies vouch that the new taglines are more than just a tagline and clearly reflect the new brand positioning. According to A G Krishnamurthy, Chairman, AGK Brand Consulting, “All these companies, which have a new slogan, are trying to stay afloat in the changing market scenario. They are trying to match the changing times, changing customer attitude. So, it’s a positive move and is a sign of changing times.”
Agreeing with him, Umbrella’s Director, B Ramnathkar, said, “Seeing the companies adapt to a new baseline clearly means that they are growing and are thinking in the right direction. Now things are changing, consumer behaviour is also changing, and when we change we want to do something new and different, come across as changed with a new philosophy. But yes, one can’t keep changing their baselines every now and then, there has to be a consistency maintained. Also, for the first 10-15 years corporations can’t change their initial taglines.”
But from the buyer point of view what is the effect on the consumer of the new baseline? “The change doesn’t mean anything if it is purely cosmetic and thus is meaningless. The basic purpose of a tagline is for product differentiation and if the company has got it right in this sphere then the consumer too will adjust to it although maybe slowly. Take for instance, Nokia – ‘Connecting people’. Now this slogan is the purpose for its basic existence. So deeper the pyramid, stronger is the meaning and consumer resilience,” quipped Sanjiv Malhotra, Director, Alia Group.
Halve has point to make when he says that a tagline either has to promise something extremely specific in a rationale sense and or has to be very emotive at an emotional level. For example, FedEx’s tagline, ‘When it absolutely, positively, has to be there over night.’
While there are many companies who struggle to provide the right slogan to bring out its philosophy, its belief and keep on changing its tagline, there are also those firms, which manage to strike the right balance almost all the time. Yes, the world of changing taglines is a new marketing mantra, but it certainly means much more than just a mantra.