Do You Have a True News Brand or Just a Slogan?

By Graeme Newell 

-Very specific slogans are great for brand focus but often lack versatility.
-General slogans allow brands to easily transition but often foster vagueness.
-Don’t rely on a slogan to carry a brand.
-You shouldn’t brand a product. Instead, create a product that is a demonstration of the brand.

In the old sitcom “Bewitched” the heroine’s husband, Darrin Stevens, worked at an ad agency and many of the episodes showed him and his wonderful wife Samantha, teaming up to come up with that pef phrase and all your marketing woes will be solved. This same mindset still lives on in a lot of television newsrooms around the country.

Slogans can be divided into two main categories:
1) Those that promote product attributes.
2) Those that promote emotional attachment.


The best slogans will do both.

For example, New Balance has a product brand slogan, “Fit for you, fit for your sport.” Their athletic shoes come in narrow and wide sizes, so their brand is all about the perfect fit. Conversely, Nike has an emotional brand slogan with, “Just Do It.” While they do specific product advertising, the main focus of their brand is the emotion. They put a priority on attaching emotion to the product through imagery of tenacity and perseverance. You will rarely see shots of shoes appear in their ads.

Most television stations have product attribute slogans that describe their coverage priority:
Coverage You Can Count On
Live, Local, Late Breaking
Digging Deeper
Where the News Comes First
The Weather Authority
On Your Side
Your Jaguars Station

Typically, these slogans showcase a specific news component, such as weather, breaking coverage or investigations.

Product attribute slogans can be further divided into two subcategories. Those that have a literal interpretation and those that have a vague interpretation.

Literal Slogans

A literal slogan leaves the customer with a clear understanding of the specific product attribute that will be featured in the newscast. This can be a specific segment such as weather, or a particular reporting style such as “fast and breaking.” Each of these slogans leaves you with a clear understanding of the station’s priority. For example:
Live, Local, Late Breaking
More News, Less Crime
Your Investigation Station
Standing Up for Working Class Families

After reading these literal slogans, you quickly understand what the station is all about. Literal slogans can be both a blessing and a curse. They are ideal for products just starting or changing a brand. Their clear meaning easily conveys the essence of the brand in just a few words. The station can hammer away at that one attribute and more quickly win mind share. Literal slogans are very popular and very effective for television news because many stations constantly change their brand and their slogan line.

The problem with literal slogans comes after you get a little success under your belt. Let’s say the station spends a few years pounding away at the message that it is the “breaking news” station. Its consistency wins mind share and gains preference. It did a good job of winning all the hearts of breaking news buffs in the market, but now it needs to grow its product. Problem is, there aren’t a lot more breaking news buffs left to convert, so continuing to pound home the breaking news message isn’t going to win it a lot more converts. What does it do now? Its entire branding campaign is about breaking news. It must now change the slogan and transition the brand – a very painful and slow process.

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Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at