I want to be the first to wish happy birthday to one of the most influential brands in the world. So here goes... 'Happy Birthday, America! You look fantastic for 233. It's like you haven't gained a state in over 50 years.'?
Let's face it, the United States is a brand. A pretty impressive one, too. It's red, white and blue palette has inspired thousands of copycats ' both large (Pepsi) and small (Liberia). It has a logo (See Fig. 1) to rival Nike and McDonald's. It even has a mighty, majestic mascot. (See Fig. 2).
Fig 1. Nearly as recognizable as the Swoosh and Golden Arches.
What America doesn't have is a tagline.
'Land of the free, home of the brave'?? Iconic, yes. But lyrics, not a tag. And 'Uncle Sam Wants You!'? is more a slogan for an acquisition campaign (the draft).
A tagline would be an essential tool for America. It would sum up all the nation stands for in one tasty, snack-size phrase and mark every interaction between the brand and its consumers... tax returns, Air Force One, presidential pardons, commemorative plates, Michael Phelps' Speedo. The reach is endless.
With the big 233 fast approaching and our national brand managers engaging in a bit of rebranding, I can't think of a better time to give our nation a tagline. So let's get to it.
Sure, we could just sit in a room and spit out some random taglines...
America. Get Your Jonas Brothers Here!
America. We Google Ourselves Sometimes.
America. Mexico's Hat.
Fun? Yup. An embodiment of the brand? Nope. And as the written calling card for a brand, a tagline must epitomize the brand's promise and accurately reflect its image.
Let's start with the promise, which is an honest, meaningful outcome consumers can always expect from a brand experience. History has created many promises worthy of the American brand. But we gotta pick one. After ruling out One nation under God (inappropriate given the brand's many and diverse consumer segments) and Land of opportunity (a noble ideal but perhaps a bit of an overpromise in these unsure times), I landed on A nation of the people, by the people, for the people.
This promise ladders down perfectly to America's product (democracy) and is inclusive of all consumer segments. Just as important: it's a promise the brand can realistically fulfill. After all, everyone has the right to vote, the chance to pursue their dreams and over 178 channels to choose from. (Yes, I'm making broad strokes and grossly oversimplifying, but this is a marketing blog... so humor me.)
That takes us to image. How does the brand want to be perceived? How is it perceived? If America's recent rebranding efforts are any indication, America wants to shed the current market perception for a new 'smart-popular-guy-who-is-down-to-earth-enough-to-stick-up-for-drama-kids-and-rap-with-computer-geeks'? image. In short: Hip, accepting, smart.
Can the brand pull off this personality shift? Well, the new administration tweets (hip), initiates dialogue with sworn enemies (accepting) and hires one half of Harold and Kumar to work in the White House (smart). So, yes, it can.
Now that we have a promise (of the people, for the people, by the people), a product (democracy) and some brand personality (hip, accepting, smart), it's time to rally the brainstorming troops here at AMP. After a few sessions, some potential winners surfaced...
America. Putting the U back in the USA.
America. Talk to me, world.
America. Life, liberty and fist-bumps.
Some nail promise but miss on personality. Or vice versa. But none hit on all points.
Then someone (Hi, Kevin!) came up with this little nugget:
America. Not as _________ as you think.
We tried filling the blank for awhile but soon realized everyone had their own blank-filler, and no one was more right or wrong than the next. Then it hit us: Who are we to fill that blank?
American democracy empowers us to elect our own officials and create our own laws ... arguably the first examples of user-generated content in marketing history.
So why not apply that same spirit to America's tagline? Why not let people ' across the country and the world ' fill in the blank for themselves?
A tagline customized of/by/for the people hits the brand promise on the head. And in this YouTube and Twitter-ific age ' as consumers take more ownership of brands than ever ' this tagline doesn't just say 'hip, smart and accepting'?, it lives it, breathes it and gargles with it every morning. And it shows that the brand is changing, or at least trying to change perception, for the better.
The only tweak it needs is a flip from the negative to bring in some of the hope that got our President elected. So Happy B-day, America. Here's your new tagline:
America. More _________ than you think.
In celebration of the 4th, I'm going with: America. More fireworky than you think.
OK, your turn. It's your brand, your nation. Give it a tagline. We'd love to hear your take...