Branding Yourself as Unremarkable

On a refrigerator in suburban St. Louis, Missouri is a magnet. The magnet has schedules for the local football teams, along with a slogan from the Realtor who provided it:

Go With Gordon — The Hard Working Nice Guy!

Can you think of a less-remarkable nickname? Especially since Gordon gave it to himself? Amazingly enough, a Google search reveals that this is a common slogan in the real estate business. There’s a Hard Working Nice Guy in Orlando, FL; a Hard Working Nice Guy in Chicago; a Hard Working Nice Guy in Chilliwack, BC and Yuba City, CA.

“The Splendid Splinter” is memorable.

“The Godfather of Soul” is remarkable.

“The Axis of Evil” stays in the mind.

“Portland’s Finest Media Rep” is remarkable — if you’re a Portland business owner, and I can convince you that I’m Portland’s finest media rep, I’ve got a good chance of getting your business.

How excited can you get about the chance to work with a hard working nice guy?

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3 Responses to Branding Yourself as Unremarkable

  1. rshevlin says:

    Gee, I don’t know, Phil.

    I think it’s all relative. Personally, “portland’s finest media rep” doesn’t do it for me. Seems like EVERYBODY claim’s that they’re the [fill-in-your-location]‘s best [fill-in-your-job].

    Granted, “hard working nice guy” hardly seems remarkable. But if Gordon is in a profession teeming with lazy-ass, rude jerks, then “hard working nice guy” DOES set him apart.

    Even more importantly, it sets a bar for him to live up to. If Gordon actually delivers on his promise… then he may very well be remarkable.

  2. I put “Portland’s Finest Radio Rep” on a fax cover sheet as a joke in 1996, and the recipient called within five minutes demanding to know who had elected me. That convinced me to put it on everything I could think of. It took me two years and a management change before I could talk my bosses into letting me put it on my business card. I switched it to “Portland’s Finest Media Rep” as my company added Internet advertising to the mix.

    Most people in my line of work try to convince customers and prospects that their radio station is better than the other guy’s station. The position I’ve endeavored to stake out is that the other guy’s station may be just as good as mine — but I can put together a more effective campaign, and you have to buy my station if you want to work with me.

    Using the title moves the conversation away from rates and ratings, in which we become a commodity, to a discussion about writing the best copy and producing the most effective commercials. If I can convince a prospect that quality of the message is the important thing, and that I can do a better job on that — because I’m Portland’s Finest Media Rep — then I win the game.

    There are lots of hard-working nice guys — male and female — in the real estate business. I’m inclined to think you can convince a seller that you’re a hard-working nice guy and still not get the listing. On the other hand, the fact that so many realtors around the country are using the title (it seems to be one per market) that maybe they know something I don’t. Wouldn’t be the first time…

  3. rshevlin says:

    Phil —

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Your points certainly clarified two things for me (one of which I kind of already knew):

    1) In the end, what’s more important than whether or not someone “thinks” the label is remarkable, it’s whether or not the label spurs them to take ACTION.

    2) What I find unremarkable, you might find remarkable. But you and I are data points of one. While it’s certainly not always feasible to do market research, before doing something as important as selecting the tag line you’re going to have to live with, you’ve got to have some sense how your target market is going to respond to it.

    Keep up the good blogging.

    — Ron

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