When taglines become outdated, what’s a brand to do?

Every brand strives to achieve such recognition of their name and tagline that consumers immediately know the product. This is a good thing. It strengthens the brand in the marketplace, creates top of  mind awareness, and can drive brand preference.

But when the tagline is based on some very specific attribute of the brand – especially one that can fluctuate – it can quickly become outdated and create a problem when it’s so entrenched in the branding. Case in point is GEICO car insurance. We all know their “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” schtick.

Does GEICO's "15 minutes" tagline work against them in the face of other online competitors?

The thing of it is, it no longer takes 15 minutes to get an online quote – and hasn’t for YEARS. Not from GEICO, not from Progressive, and not from other strong online insurance companies.

Online-only car insurer esurance knows this and is capitalizing on it. Their ankle-biting ads of online quotes only taking 7.5 minutes is clearly an attempt to capitalize on any perceived superiority to big-name insurers and create brand preference since they offer speedier quotes.

If you were to go to geico.com and get a quote, you’d find it really only takes 8 minutes. Same for Progressive and likely a few others.

It’s along the old adage that, as a brand, you don’t have to be the first to do something, you just have to be the first to talk about it.

What so many seem to overlook, though, is to make sure it’s actually WORTH talking about.

GEICO up until now has really been the only one to ever talk about how long an online quote takes. That’s because they were a bit of a pioneer with the online quote process when 15 minutes really was fast and 15% savings was meaningful (though that’s still a compelling point, even today).

 

It remains to be seen whether a difference of 8 minutes getting an insurance quote works for esurance and trumps GEICO's savings claim.With esurance jumping on the quote-speed bandwagon, it begs the question: do people really care whether a quote takes 7 minutes, 10 minutes, or 15 minutes? Will someone get a quote from esurance because it supposedly takes half the time as GEICO? Unlikely. They’ll get quotes from everyone they can until they find a rate and coverage they like.

Going back to the early point about taglines getting entrenched in branding, should GEICO move away from their tagline? Yes, eventually. Esurance is a small player, but with money coming from behemoth Allstate, there’s a fair chance that media buys could expand to propagate the 7-minute message.

If GEICO moves away from their tagline, it needs to be done with surgical precision. They need to carefully extricate that 15 minute tagline from their brand, which takes time, and during which time they need to integrate the new tagline. Keeping the rest of their brand bag the same (gecko, Maxwell the pig, and others), the transition would likely still see a slight drop in brand awareness, though certainly recoverable. But there are significant risks involved, and finding a suitable replacement tagline that would endure for years like their “15 minutes” tagline is no quick, easy, or painless process.

Hence the risk of tying your tagline to something variable or dated. If you’re going to do it, you have to be willing and ready to walk away from it when those variables change.

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