University Business - March 2010 - (Page 26)

VIEWPOINT University Taglines and thefrom Hamlet “Polonius Syndrome” Lessons By Dale Hartley O BE OR NOT TO BE? A college on the East Coast uses “ e Place to Be!” as its tagline. And why not? Everyone has to be somewhere. But unless the school wishes to target modern-day Hamlets who haven’t decided whether to be or not, it has zero impact. Another popular tagline is “Start Here, Go Anywhere.” It’s too popular, in fact. Dozens of schools use that same slogan or a close derivation. When an institution’s tagline is so generic as to be interchangeable among schools, it’s a sure sign that coherent strategy has “gone elsewhere.” Why do so many colleges use contrived and inept taglines? More importantly, what is the proper function of a tagline, and what do schools risk in deploying meaningless or absurd slogans? “HOW WEARY, STALE, FLAT, AND UNPROFITABLE” HAMLET, I, II defines a tagline as “a slogan or phrase that conveys the most important … [feature] or benefit that the advertiser wishes to convey.” However, emphasizing features in taglines is the hallmark of an amateur. Experts stress benefits instead. An example of a feature-oriented tagline: “A Tradition of Leadership.” A benefit-oriented tagline: “Where You’re a Name, Not a Number.” Features are inward-looking and self-oriented. Benefits are outwardlooking and focused on the target audience’s interests. 26 | March 2010 T The power of taglines lies in their ability to arouse interest and motivate action. Sweet Briar College (Va.), a school for women, uses the tagline, “ ink Is for Girls.” ey even render the word “ ink” in pink to emphasize the pun. As taglines, puns are usually problematic. But Sweet Briar’s slogan is brilliant. Sweet Briar’s tagline is obviously a twist on the old cliché that “pink is for girls.” is combination of the familiar with the unexpected makes it memorable. Unmemorable taglines are a waste of potential. e best taglines capture the imagination and can go viral (“Got milk?”). Advertising guru and best-selling author Roy H. Williams says, “ e risk of insult is the price of clarity.” Sweet Briar College is not concerned with whether boys approve of its tagline. e school is not for them. “ ink Is for Girls” resonates because it speaks with clarity to Sweet Briar’s intended audience—even to the exclusion of all others. e power of taglines lies in their ability to arouse interest and motivate action. Sweet Briar’s “ ink” slogan is a good example: It piques curiosity and encourages further investigation. “ENTER POLONIUS” HAMLET, I, III Regrettable taglines amount to an opportunity wasted. Lifeless or pretentious phrases can even evoke skepticism toward the school. Hamlet-like dithering and institutional navel-gazing cause or contribute to Dale Hartley is executive director of the Pratt Community College Foundation in Kansas.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - March 2010

University Business - March 2010
Editor’s Note
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Behind the News
Sense of Place
Financial Aid
Human Resources
Money Matters
Community Colleges as Economic Saviors
Web Content Needs - Solved
Paths to the Presidency
What’s New
End Note

University Business - March 2010