I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there are universally accepted differences in the marketing community between a tagline, a slogan, and a company mantra. Do you know what they are?
In short, taglines and slogans are for your customers, while mantras are for your company. And it’s what your customers don’t see that really defines who you are.
Taglines and slogans are marketing
Taglines are short written statements that describe companies as a whole. They are usually powerful and memorable, two to four words, and often appearing inseparable from a logo. BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine is a classic example.
Slogans, usually two to four words as well, are phrases associated with ad campaigns. They can be short lived, or they can last years—some to the point of becoming part of our cultural consciousness. Everyone has seen or heard Coca Cola’s It’s The Real Thing ad, first introduced in 1969, but if you read about Coca Cola’s slogan history, it might surprise you that they’ve had 20 more slogans for other ad campaigns since then.
When a slogan is really successful, it often gets promoted to a company’s tagline. Got Milk? for the California Milk Processor Board is an oft-cited example.
This means that even though taglines and slogans have different meanings and purposes, they do share one important thing in common–-they are external facing. They are part of your brand identity in the marketplace.
If you think about it, we’re entering a 4th incarnation of marketing, a cycle that only comes along every 50 years. Although it’s been a means of advertisement since before currency was invented, let’s use 1860 as a starting point. Back then, marketing was done mainly in-person, by soliciting to pedestrian traffic walking by your store. 50 years later, around 1910, door-to-door sales activities started to become popular. Still in-person, but a polar shift in that now the seller was coming to the buyer. 50 years after that, around 1960, the Mad Men of Madison Avenue catapulted marketing into the broadcast era of print, radio and the then new medium, television. Now the seller was really coming to the buyer, and everywhere, not just in his/her home.
And although it’s been 20 years since the commercialization of the internet (thanks, Marc Andreessen), and only 10 years since social media started taking hold (thanks? Mark Zuckerberg), it’s really only been recently, say 2010, that we’ve entered a 4th 50-year cycle of marketing transformation - content marketing.
I’ve had my blog for two months now, but this is my first post including something related to my fascination with the number three, especially as it pertains to effective communication. It definitely won’t be the last. In fact, I’ll probably write about three so much over time, that I’ll end up adding a 3-category some day to collect all of them in one place.
Whether conscious or unconscious, we’re all aware of the Power of Three. It shows up in religion, colors, photography, suba diving, math, economics, Olympic medals, fairy tales, and military structure and strategy. Three just sticks. Our brain organizes and remembers three really well. Get to four, and it starts to break down. Studies have even been done scanning brain wave patterns to prove it. The uniqueness, power, and applications are boundless.
Three is especially prevalent in written and oral communication, such as speeches, books, plays, and comedy. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Three Blind Mice. A priest, a rabbi, and a duck walk into a bar. The list of examples is endless.
I remember the dot com era well. Everything was rush, rush, rush. I wasn't used to it, and I didn't embrace it. I had just made a transition from the commercial real estate development industry to the tech industry. I was used to projects taking 3-5 years. Patience was definitely a virtue in that business. Then I was thrust into an environment that if you didn't get something done in the next three hours, people were mad; and someone else did the job instead. I know it's been said a sense of urgency is one of the pillars of a great company, but I think many times it hurts more than it helps.
I say this in the context of Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; a bible of sorts for time/work management. In the book he describes four quadrants, with the axes of his graph urgency and importance. His says urgent/important "Quadrant 1" issues should take top priority, but most people spend too much time doing "Quadrant 3" urgent/not-important and "Quadrant 4" not-urgent/not-important activities. He goes on to say the goal is to spend as much time as possible in "Quadrant 2", the important/not-urgent sector; which if done right, will actually decrease the amount of urgent/important items that come up.
So what is urgent/not-important? In a word, strategy. It's thinking past your nose. And my one take away from the dot com era was not too many people thought past their nose. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should all sit around in a conference room and talk about how we're going to conquer the world. I've seen too many start-ups that did only that. Things need to get done. If I had to pick a word for what I'm trying to say on this point, it's balance.
I am a jump out of the airplane and see if the parachute opens type of guy. There is no pepper I won't chomp into or salsa I won't slurp to see how hot it is. If something is constructed or executed poorly, whether a building, a dish of food, or a process, I'm going to weigh in with my strong opinion; to whomever I'm sitting next to.
The same goes true for something truly outstanding or memorable; again across the broad spectrum of things, actions, and processes. I'm going to say exactly what's on my mind. I'm outspoken regarding people as well; good or bad; family, friend or co-worker. Do something great or mediocre, and you'll hear from me; although hopefully in public for the former and in private for the latter.
No fears, and no filters. It's the way I am. And that goes for decisions as well, not just actions and opinions. I got some sage advice my first week working out of college "Don't be scared to make a decision"; clarifying I'd make 10 decisions a day in my new management role, and if I got 7 right, I'd be hitting a home run. So, I've done just that. I've made decisions; on a daily basis. And I've used my no fear/no filters mindset many a times to make tough or quick calls.