Writing A Great Tagline
Last night I noticed that Lexus has a new tagline.
Even though I don’t drive one of their cars, I am a big fan of the company and their advertising. That’s because Lexus and their marketing professionals clearly understood the All About Them mindset.
Launched in the United States in 1989, Lexus was a brand created specifically for an emerging market. 20 years later, Lexus was the fourth-largest premium car make in the world by volume and was the number one selling premium car brand in the United States for 10 years in a row.
How did they do it?
Lexus combined engineering from Toyota’s most reliable models with the various creature comforts and status cues that newly affluent consumers craved. The result was a car that was proficient at comfort, luxury, status, and performance without being the best at any of those things. The brand was successful because it spoke directly to its customers. Plus, it gave them exactly what they wanted and nothing they didn’t.
But besides building the car its buyers wanted, and providing them with the dealer-service experience they demanded, Lexus also excelled at communicating the car’s brand value. This was especially true with their tagline: “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.” The slogan suggested that the car company would never rest in their ongoing quest to build the best car in the world.
But the tagline did something else. It also represented its buyers’ attitude.
After all, Lexus were not first purchased by people who were already buying Mercedes Benzes and BMWs and stepping down to the Japanese marque. Instead, Lexus were driven off the lot by newly-affluent strivers who were trading up from mid-tier domestic and imported brands. These drivers were attracted both by Lexus’ Mercedes-like looks and quality and their significantly lower prices. And so the line, “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” did not just talk about the car. The line represented the aspirational lifestyle of the car’s customers, too.
But after 20 incredibly successful years, Lexus’ fortunes began to change. Thanks to a global recession, along with changing consumer tastes, Lexus lost significant market share in the U.S. and lost their best-selling luxury status to BMW and Mercedes Benz. In response, the brand edited its message to the shorter “Pursuit of Perfection.”
Whether or not this edit referred to Lexus’ former achievements or continued to represent its consumers is hard to tell. After all, while the relentless pursuit of perfection is, by definition, an impossible hunt, it certainly seems more romantic than the truncated message.
But this year Lexus changed their tag again. Lexus’ new tagline is “Experience Amazing.” And what was once an extremely powerfully motivating life mantra has been watered down into generic pabulum.
Porsche warns us that, “There is no substitute.”
BMW tempts us with, “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
Volvo reassures us, “For Life.”
Mercedes Benz promises, “The Best or Nothing.”
And now Lexus wants to inspire us with line that would be just as appropriate for Cirque de Soleil’s new show, Disney World’s latest theme park, a new IPA, or even Dr. Scholl’s newest shoe liners?
Where’s the learning you can apply to your business? Simply put, while a good brand makes people feel good, a great brand makes people feel good about themselves. Just like the relentless pursuit of perfection!