Poor grammar or good strategy? Maybe both.
A local healthcare system recently revamped its brand. My commute takes me by one of its billboards every day, and I honestly can’t stop thinking about its new tagline. Why can’t I stop thinking about it?
Because without any context clues, it doesn’t make sense, at least grammatically.
Thomas Jefferson University, along with the hospitals, physicians, research and philanthropy associated with the University, have been combined into a single entity, and its new, inclusive tagline is “Health is all we do.”
My first thought on reading the tagline on its billboard is that health is a noun. It’s something that you have, not something you do. I started thinking about why the creators proposed that particular phrase.
I’ve been working with a brand guru long enough to know that a brand’s tagline isn’t just pulled from the air. Take a look at our process, and you’ll see that the creative development of your brand messaging and visuals doesn’t happen until you are two-thirds of the way into our process. Only after assessing your brand, and distilling what differentiates it from competitors, will we develop your brand strategy. Once that’s complete, then we begin the process of bringing that strategy to life in the forms of logos, taglines and messaging.
So there was probably a lot of time, energy, sweat and tears involved in assessing the Jefferson brands, and developing a tagline that could effectively communicate how it has aligned its brands into a single entity. Its website features a video showing the hospital and staff, students and teachers, researchers, innovators and community partners. A disparate group, but the common denominator was health. Healthcare, health education, health research, and funding. It became clear that the term health was intended to encompass all of the health-related services they provide. The strategy and the intent are what make this tagline work, despite the disregard for the parts of speech.
Advertising doesn’t have to play by the same rules we learned in school. When there is a solid strategy and an intent to differentiate a brand, taking creative license is okay. This isn’t the first brand to play a little fast and loose with the rules of grammar. Consider “Think Different” from Apple, or the “Got Milk?” campaign.
What other campaigns do you think have been successful even though they broke the rules?