Recruitment firms talk about the ‘purple squirrel’ candidate – that individual who perfectly matches the client’s very particular spec.
I’m not sure marketers have come up with a similar label for the perfect strapline (give it a while, I’m sure someone with too much time on their hands will do so) but once we have settled on a label, I’ve spotted the best example I’ve seen in a long time – and it’s hardly being used by the geniuses behind it.
Now, before I tell you what it is, I should declare a lack of interest. I’m not a great fan of slogans and straplines. They belong to the same school of thought as the elevator pitch.*
They give marketers and business developers (sales) a chance to organise a brainstorming session where everyone’s view is combined in one anodyne catch-all phrase that makes them feel creative and does nothing to generate business.
But there is an occasional exception. Ronseal’s “It does exactly what it says on the tin” and Carlsberg’s “Probably the best lager in the world” have caught the imagination, reinforced the brand and entered everyday conversation – possibly to their detriment.
So if you’re going to have a strapline it has to be a cracker. And I saw one as I drove down to Cornwall for a romantic weekend.
Somewhere along the M5 I found myself travelling behind a liveried Konecranes van.
I’ve never heard of the company before, but stencilled on the rear door, right next to the distinctive Konecranes logo in bright, clear letters was this phrase:
“We can service any make of crane.”
Why is this strapline so great?
It makes it crystal clear what they do (they service cranes), the scope of their services (any type of crane), it uses everyday language that anyone can understand, it’s memorable and it is (thank goodness) distinctively not creative.
There’s not a whiff of ‘created by committee’ about it. I’m not saying that didn’t happen but it feels like a single visionary has said ‘That’s what we do, now bung it on the back of the van.’
I’d challenge the use of the word ‘can’. It’s an extra syllable and adds an element of doubt – you can, but do you?
A purist might argue it would be useful to add an indicator of geographic scope:
“We service any make of crane anywhere in the world.”
But that seems like an unnecessary added complication to me. If I’ve seen your van I assume you operate in my country and, as I know the crane industry is a multinational one, I guess you’re willing to travel a fair distance for business.
So for my money it’s almost perfect and I resolved to write this blog about its excellence.
Unfortunately when I visited Konecranes’ website I discovered a horrific truth.
It’s not their strapline at all. It’s a phrase they occasionally use in various documents and in their metadata, in a slightly extended format: “We can service any make of crane and hoist.”
Fair enough. But it gets hidden in reams of copy on the website – just another sentence amongst the rest.
They do, however, have an official, trademarked strapline that is promoted with pride throughout:
No! Oh, Konecranes, how could you let me down like this? This is one of those “clever” phrases that’s intended to have a double meaning and ends up having no meaning at all.
I get it. So by fixing the stuff that lifts other stuff you improve the overall performance of the business.
I bet the committee that came up with this one collectively tilted their chairs before heading off for a ‘well-deserved’ liquid lunch.
But guys, it is rubbish.
Unless I already know what you do it means nothing to me. And if I do know what you do I don’t believe it. You worry about fixing my cranes and I’ll worry about getting the leads in.
So stop being clever and start being clear. You already have the right answer in your hands.
*I’ll cover the abomination of the elevator pitch in another blog. Suffice it to say if we’re ever in an elevator and you try to describe your business to me, one of us will be making a swift exit on the next level.