Paraphrasing T-Pain, recently, I was on a boat...a very large boat. Said
boat is part of a very prominent cruise line fleet, which I will
respectfully not name. Let's just say it was like a wafting circus or a
sea-worthy amusement park of sorts. It was just the nice, relaxing
vacation I needed – sans the sunburn and numerous food-induced comas.
Every night at dinner, our loquacious Maitre d, MA-RI-O! would greet us
with an outstanding hello. He is a true advocate for his ship's brand
and a genuinely fun guy. He'd follow his belting salutation with a
chuckle-worthy anecdote about the day and end with a rundown of events
for the rest of the evening. As we were at the late dinner, the
remaining activities were generally somewhat adult in nature, ranging
from R-rated comedians to late-night dance parties to singles meet and
greets, causing MA-RI-O! to sign off his monologue every evening
with...ready? Hold on to your hats:
"And don't forget –
what happens on the ship...
(everybody now in unison)
...stays on the ship!"
I swear I've heard that somewhere before.
I mean, come on you great floating fair of a ship...can't you be more
original? Everything else about you was branded well: the festive names
of your ships, the patriotic color scheme, the hats and drink cups
shaped like your unique tail fin, the clever one- or two-liners in bold,
sans-serif with all caps. You truly are a fun ship
(did I spill the beans there?)
So why must you borrow from another, more prominent brand? You've broken
rule one of branding: Your brand voice must be unique to your
Now, you buoyant boat, you, I know what you're asking: Why can Only Vegas
(see what I did there?) take the verbiage that's perfect for you? I
answer by asking if you’ve seen the little “TM” at the top left of their
tagline? Secondly, there are many slogans out there with a similar (if
not exact) message, but their users have creatively re-worded or altered
them to be more unique to them.
Granted, MA-RI-O!'s exclamation was not his ship's official tagline and
merely an expression of his jovial wit, but it was still an extension of
his ship's brand personality. If the cruise line were a person, would
it shout out a Vegas tagline with a knowing wink? I think it would. It
would probably also pull a microphone from the ceiling and belt out a
resounding, "Let's get ready to...PARTY!" a-la Michael Buffer
outside the ring.
That's all well and good, as long as people realize this is all a
showcase of MA-RI-O!'s personality and as such, it must be complementary
to the ship's brand.
This is why brand messaging is no small task. Someone – hopefully a
marketing agency – spent a great deal of time and thought developing
this cruise line's brand platform with brand positioning and mission
statements, elevator pitches and defined brand personality attributes
and core brand values. And hopefully, all of this work was incorporated
into their marketing materials, content and advertising campaigns.
We have one of those office clichés floating around the studio here to
"consider the person who answers the phone your director of first
impressions." Beyond that, all of your employees should be considered
your own brand ambassadors. Even those that don't have face time with
clients. You know, the ones you hide in the farthest cubicle in the
basement? What should they say when they pick up the phone? How should
they answer certain questions? Are there certain words they should
incorporate into their answers? Do they hang up a la Chevy Chase with
"Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow," or Dennis Miller’s "I am outta
All of these are considerations of a solid brand platform.
I'm Design, that's my story and I'm sticking to it
Dave is the art director at thunder::tech. His brand would best be
represented through a stand-up routine by Holden Caulfield as written by
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. as visualized collaboratively by Ralph Steadman and
Keith Haring and brought to life through the magic of Jim Henson
Studios...but unique to Dave.