These two little words have ignited a legal battle between Beaverton, Oregon based sportswear giant Nike, Inc. and Baltimore, Maryland’s Under Armour. The Baltimore Sun has reported that Under Armour is suing its West Coast rival over its use of the slogan “I will.” Once again, they’ll be clashing in court instead of just on the court.
Matt Powell of SportsOneSource said that “Nike likes to tweak competitors,” according to The Sun. With Nike revenue running at $24 billion annually (vs. Under Armour’s $1.8 billion), there’s certainly a lot at stake. I’ll leave it to you to determine whether Nike crossed the legal line with its use of the slogan – check out the slide show of competing ads that the companies have run. There’s also a Nike web commercial that’s gathering lots of eyeballs on YouTube that carries out the promise of their “new” slogan.
The bigger question here is for marketers, though. Just how important is a slogan in this age of social media, word of mouth campaigns and seemingly endless varieties of new ways to market?
According to Powell, not very. “I’m not sure how much slogans mean in the marketing world anymore,” he said according to the Baltimore Sun. “We’ve moved beyond that having resonance with a consumer. There are so many other ways to reach out right to a consumer, and then it’s not about convincing but about authenticity and connecting them to that experience.”
Don't believe it. As an advertising writer, I’m convinced that the “USP” (unique selling proposition) is as vital as ever to convey what’s most important about your product and what it can do for the consumer. While every brand has many attributes, the most successful marketers recognize that summing it all up for the consumer in a short, pithy and memorable phrase is the best way to leave a strong, singular impression in the mind of the buyer. Think of it as the architectural framework of a house on which everything else is built.
Prove it to yourself. Try this little test.
Think of your favorite brand – mouthwash, a car, a fast food restaurant – doesn’t matter what category. I’m betting that one brand popped into your head – and even though you may not remember its slogan, you can bet that the reason it popped into your head is because the marketers of that brand created a singular way to think about it.
Does your product or service have a slogan worth remembering?