The business of tag lines

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Citibank had a classic baseline going in ‘Citi Never Sleeps’. Introduced in the 1970s, this was considered to be among the all-time greats. Introduced around the invention of the ATM, the line worked well because it communicated a 24 hour, accessible, reachable institution. In April 2007, they introduced a new tag line: ‘Let’s get it done’. (I remember seeing the tag line ‘Live Richly’ too in the recent past).

The new CEO, Vikram Pandit, has apparently ordered back the baseline ‘Citi Never Sleeps’. According to this article, while the tag line ‘Let’s get it done’ tested well with customers, many employees, from senior bankers to security guards, were uninspired. The article goes on to say that, after spending more than $451 million on brand advertising in 2007, Citigroup executives plan to pump $20 million to $30 million more into this new brand introduction. To save money, the bank is recycling the film and music used in the “Let’s Get It Done” television commercials and slapping on the new slogan at the end. The result, several ad industry experts say, is something of a mishmash.

The business of tag lines is very subjective. While there is every merit in being consistent, sometimes one needs to change with the times or reflect a new business outlook. Marketers feel compelled to change their longtime slogans because they don’t fit the company and where it’s going anymore. GE’s slogan, ‘We bring good things to life’ ran for 24 years. When GE, which traces its roots to inventor Thomas Edison, surveyed what consumers, employees, customers and investors thought of the “Good Things” theme, they were surprised. It meant only two things: lighting and appliances. But since the company was much more than that – the portfolio ranges from aircraft engines and power generators to financial services to the NBC television network. The result: Imagination at Work.

For me, one big benchmark of a good baseline is its ‘ownability’: can it easily work for the competitor? If the brand name is integrated into the base line it is that much more powerful. Some examples:

‘It’s Miller time!’
“I’d walk a mile for a Camel.”
“No FT, no comment.”
“Let your fingers do the walking.” (linked to the Yellow Pages logo)
“Beanz Meanz Heinz”
“Cats like Felix like Felix.”
“My goodness, my Guinness!”
“Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet.”
“Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.”
“It is. Are you?” (Slogan for The Independent)
“Have a break. Have a Kit-Kat.”

The ‘Citi never sleeps’ slogan has that advantage. Do you think they should have invested in ‘lets get it done’? Or were they right in reverting to the old line? Pray tell.

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  1. ‘Citi never sleeps’ defintely intergerated the brand…but ‘Lets get it done’ says a lot also. Changing it all over again may confuse the consumer. Now how many consumers actually go by a company’s baseline and buy or use the product? Not many? So let them go back to the old one and get it done….:) Personally…I like it!

  2. No wonder Citibnak can never sleep because it has “too many” problems.

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