Something bad or not so good supports the old saying that it is a good example for a warning. That very case drove past me today – clearly visible on a lorry of a large German industrial company. What happened?
Some time ago thyssenkrupp (formerly ThyssenKrupp) gave themselves a new marketing identy. Modern, “tidy” and away from the aged image of a “steel maker”. And, believe it or not, it was awarded the 2016 European Design Award. So, all is well, right?
A Round of Buzzword Bingo?
With all the positive attributes that can be said about the new appearance, the new claim engineering. tomorrow. together. gives the impression that it was conjured up in a round of Buzzword bingo. Empty, limp without a clear statement or address. It very much reminds me of Microsoft’s classic "The Wow starts now"! launching Windows Vista - Seth Godin's aptly commented on Times photos of several bored-looking MS managers at the launch event.
Actually, thyssenkrupp really wanted to convey something else.
The claim - “engineering. tomorrow. together.” - places a clear focus on cooperation, while also conveying that we are looking to offer pioneering solutions. In other words, the logo and claim embody our corporate identity.
Given the choice of words, I find it difficult to fathom out a "focus on cooperation" as the first two words dominate too heavily. Additionally, I am surprised about the term "clear", because the basic stringing together of three nouns leaves a huge amount of scope for dangerous interpretations, e.g.:
- "We’ll start tomorrow with our joint engineering" (Well, not today but definitely tomorrow and also together with you!)
- "Tomorrow’s engineering we will do together with you." (That of today we’d better do alone!)
Handbook for good claims and slogans
A few tips for you on the path to better claims:
- Make a single credible statement which really embodies the company or product in its entirety. Everybody should be able to say: YES, that is us!
- A good claim works internally as well as externally just by conveying a positive message to both customers and employees. The word “together” is actually a good starting point e.g. Schaeffler “Together we move the world.” (N.B.: last year’s news of thyssenkrupp’s job cuts hints that less the own workforce is meant. Whether that helps in the transition to a modern company is another question.)
- Clarity trumps. That’s why even half a sentence is better than just stringing words togther.Guide the reader’s interpretation possibilities with a clean statement. Why not play a bit with words and meanings which can bring a smile to the reader’s face? Emotional appeal increases the impact of your slogan dramatically.
- One language will suffice! When you have come up with an interesting play of words for yourself or your product stick to one language. Avoid translations (especially for idioms!). Apple’s advertisement for the MacBook Air in English uses the wonderful pun “Light years ahead”. The German version is about as boring as one could imagine: “Um Jahre voraus”. The translation is correct but… do I need to say anything else? Well, thyssenkrupp didn’t go down this road as their claim is English only.
You have questions or want to make your marketing far more effective? Then get in contact with us. We’d love to hear from you!