In quotes

19May08

Ever notice how local businesses tend to put their slogans and taglines in quotes? For example, you might see a billboard for “Chicago’s premier Italian restaurant” or notice a utility van for a company that’s been “Providing affordable plumbing services for over 25 years”. In contrast, large national firms almost never put their slogans and taglines in quotes. This is true even when we’re talking about big companies with really abstract slogans. For example, Nike’s Just Do It never has quotes surrounding it. So, why the difference?

Maybe small business owners think that the quotes make the slogan look more conversational, as if a happy customer just said it out loud and the owner wrote it down. Maybe this is a tradition that arose many years ago and stuck for whatever reason. Regardless, putting something in quotes without attributing the statement to a specific source makes it look less official, and undermines the credibility of the business. To me, it’s like the business is saying they aren’t sure about the claim, so they’re trying to deflect any responsibility for making good on it.

I’m guessing this is why the big guys write out their slogans and taglines in plain text. By losing the crutch of quotes, they’re implying that the slogan is as real as the business name or phone number or website. Local firms really ought to do the same thing: if the slogan describes the business and its products and services, write it loud and clear, without any quotes around it. And if an expert source like the local paper or a popular website writes a great review, by all means include that in your ad campaign. In that case, using quotes and including the name of the source afterwards adds credibility and makes sense to the viewer.



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