Don’t Let Your Brand Tagline Become a Corporate Embarrassment

shutterstock_111801509I was recently reading an article, Brand Slogans Gone Horribly Wrong, and was reminded about how some very large and well-known brands failed to place their slogans through the appropriate filters to ensure they wouldn’t come off as confusing or offensive in different cultures. This is something we insist our clients do because the the cost is negligible when compared to the embarrassment their brand could face when it realizes its slogan or tagline has alienated an entire culture of people.

What may seem appropriate, relevant, memorable and applicable to your brand here in the United States could be interpreted as offensive, humorous or vulgar in another country. And once a brand tagline is rolled out, like a bullet leaving the muzzle of a gun, there is no taking it back. People have a knack for remembering negative things about a brand more than anything positive. Below are a few examples of brands that failed to do their due diligence:

  • Coors’ brand slogan, “turn it loose” meant “suffer from diarrhea” in Spanish
  • When Colgate launched a toothpaste in France called Cue, it was also the name of a pornographic magazine
  • A Ford campaign in Belgium used a slogan that translated to “every car contains a high-quality corpse”
  • When Pepsi had the slogan, “Pepsi brings you back to life,” in Mandarin, it meant, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”

You may find these examples somewhat humorous, but they weren’t humorous to the CEOs of these companies and the people of the different cultures who found the brand’s messages offensive.

The take away here is consistent with what your mother always told you – do your homework.