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Subway's subpar name.

Subway’s subpar name.

This name is awful. Are pizzas anything but flat? The real problem here is in the pronunciation miscue.

Pizza, /peats ah/, with the “zz” sounding like “ts” (as in beats, cheats and Pete’s) distinguishes itself from Pisa, as in the leaning tower kind. The “s” of Pisa is a “z” sound (as in zap, zoom, zip, Zeppelin and Zorro). Yet, Subway has introduced this flatbread/pizza hybrid using the non-pizza pronunciation: -tizza as in “tease ah,” vs. “teats ah,” per the pizza pronunciation route. Customers, relying on the word “pizza” to phonetically guide them, intuitively know something is off, even before the name is out of their mouths. Going for it yields real embarrassment, before and after.

If Subway could only come up with portmanteaus, surely there were legally available options better than this. I wonder what was explored around the descriptors (“cheesy & delicious meets crispy & square” being among “edgy,” “original” and many others). They could have likely reduced the four box top adjectives to two and used some combo of the remaining in the name. Or gone with an un-fused style.

Flatizza, trying too hard to be what it’s not, is outright flat. The name is too close for comfort and so far from good. Let’s hope it wasn’t professionally sourced. If it looks like the bad end of a contest and sounds like the bad end of a contest…it probably is.

To all considering a creative exercise, name fresh!

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Conversion Conference Tagline (Duplication)Salary.com taglineSinger Tagline (Duplication)

Within branding, little is more annoying than seeing a company blow a great messaging opportunity: a name or part thereof that repeats itself in the tagline. And a few more:

Ally Bank            Everyone needs an ally.
CenturyLink        Your link to what’s next.
Vahan                 Alwand Vahan

Such lack of creativity doesn’t speak well for the discipline or the “disciplineer.” Rather than slapping a flat, thoughtless tagline under the name, leave it out.

A tagline is not the place to “tell them what you’re going to tell them” and then “tell them,” because you’ve then run out of time and space to “tell them what you just told them.” Doubling up on the name in the slogan is disrespectful to the audience…and just as you were getting their attention! In fact, not being able to come up with a short, original phrase that complements and/or reinforces the name is a common brand wasteland. Most “straplines” (as they are called in the UK) are largely visually experienced, so it is all the more surprising to see how many resources go towards a name and logo, leaving the tagline to be the afterthought and looking it all the way.

A good tagline furthers brand messaging and and strengthens positioning. As a name usually only conveys two or three traits, the tagline is the chance to say something strategic about the brand that did not make it into its hardest-working asset. Great taglines — you’ll recall “Just do it.” and “We bring good things to life.” — are born from compatibility with the naming structure and style, the sharing of additional meaning, a passion revealed and a personality defined. They transcend their typical real estate, emerging literally and figuratively out from underneath the respective name to achieve stand-alone stature and staying power in their viral journeys.

Before we leave, let’s get to some general fixes. One option is to simply remove the word or wordmark from the tagline when the two appear together, as with Singer. This may require a little tweaking of the initial phrase. Nothing fancy. Salary.com could swap out “salary” for “figure” or “number.” Either is much more interesting and adds depth. With the Conversion Conference, it may take several words or a phrase to stand in for the repeat offender. Nothing major; a quick read of the session topic blurbs and the logo give me several ideas already. Lastly, Vahan should start over. Without visual cues, some previous knowledge of the brand or seeing the domain, vahanjewelry.com (at the bottom of a recent ad showing retailers that carry the line), I have no idea what the company stands for or sells.

Given the difficulty in securing a legally-viable name and domain, the tagline can and often is a name’s best friend. If you’re strapped for creativity and time, Devign can find you both. Strapping results and in spades.

Need more be said? Don’t mind me, Harvard. Just playin’ with words here. And a family name.

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