Marketing often comes up as a topic of discussion at libraries since there is much room for improvement for library advocacy and marketing. I have been always a bit afraid of marketing simply because it was never in my background (in addition to the typical reaction of those who work in non-profit: “we don’t sell stuff!”). Thanks to a branding project I am assigned to, however, I had some time to think about brands and marketing for an organization. Hopefully by the time the project is completed, I will be no longer afraid of marketing.
What is fascinating about marketing is that although it can be all about a product, it does not have to be so. Let’s think about brands for example. What is an organization’s brand and what does it say? Here are some sample taglines of well-known brands.
- Apple, Think outside of a box.
- AT&T, The world’s networking company.
- DuPont, The miracles of science.
- IBM, Solutions for a small planet.
- Intel, Intel Inside.
- L’Oreal, Because I’m worth it.
- Nike, Just do it.
- Publix, Where shopping is pleasure.
- Subway, Eat fresh.
- Toyota, Get the feeling.
- VISA, It’s everywhere you want to be.
While some of these taglines mention what kind of businesses the brands are in, some don’t. Subway refers to eating (fast food business) and Publix mentions shopping (supermarket business). But can you tell from other taglines what their businesses are? These taglines range from indirectly emphasizing the well-known product (Intel, Visa) to something that conveys a sense of the organization/company’s culture or direction (Apple), something that the organization/company aims at achieving (AT&T, DuPont, IBM ), and an attempt to create an aura of their products (Nike, L’Oreal, Toyota).
Also to be noted is that some of these taglines directly address some of the negative perceptions in their trades. For example, by their taglines – “Eat Fresh” and “Where shopping is a pleasure”, Subway is trying to change the public’s perception that fast food is not made with fresh ingredients and Publix is trying to make people feel that shopping can be more than just a chore.
So, what would you do if you are to come up with a tagline for a library? Emphasize its well-known product, service, benefit? Or something that refers to its mission or invokes a certain aura or allure of the library? What weakness of its perception would you address and how?
A brand, a logo, a tagline, all aim at both selling certain experience to those who haven’t had it yet and strengthening it to those who already had the experience. The experience may include some tangible products but may be about something intangible such as an environment, a culture, or certain vibes. The latter are just as marketable as the former.
A brand, a logo, a tagline can also align with an organization/company’s direction/goal. By calling itself the world’s networking company for example, AT&T takes up the challenge of becoming one.
Does your library have a brand and/or a tagline? Maybe it’s time to have one.