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    Advertising messages must be grounded in the benefits of the product. The subject of the ad is the hero of the ad. Always put the name of the hero in the headline, or in a prominent subhead. Always put the brand name or company name or both where your customer will see it—in the headline.  Ad headlines without a name are like a business card that has “Me” instead of card bearer’s name. Ad headlines without the brand names are unadvertised. Ads without the brand name in the headline are a waste of money.

Advertising agencies hate this rule. This rule, they sneer, fetters creativity. The brand name may be too long, too cumbersome, too plain. Brand names too often get in the way of the clever, witty phrase. So, the advertiser leaves the brand name out of the headline. The brand name is then buried in the copy, waiting to be discovered by the customer so enthralled and compelled by that cute headline that she rushes to read the rest of the ad. ., which never happens!

Perchance, there is that one-in-a-thousand headline with no brand name that does get the customer to read, watch, or listen to the whole ad or commercial. And, perchance, the customer does read the hidden brand name. If this happens, the ultimate brand recall will be low to nonexistent. This is because the second and third and tenth time the customer sees the ad, the customer will remember having read the ad, will continue on, not bothering to reread, and therefore will miss the brand name. Ergo, no enduring brand recognition. Putting the brand in the headline ensures that a customer who has previously read or seen the ad will at least see the brand name again.

This brand name headline is crucial for billboard advertising, yet therein the rule is violated. Driving by at 100km per hour, surrounded by road rangers, the consumer has only a glimpse to absorb, not to read, your message. No one glimpses a billboard and thinks, “What a great message. Let me pull over to the side of the highway and read this billboard.” Put up your brand name or logo or both.

Can you imagine an emcee introducing the honoured guest speaker as follows, “And join with me, ladies and gentlemen to welcome . . . Him”? That is a headline without a brand name.

Marketing superstars turn brand names into stars. Consider, “With a name like Dangote, it has to be good.” No ducking, bobbing or weaving with that brand name. Just a great headline and slogan.

The marketing superstar loves the brand; he is the custodian of the brand. Put the brand name in your headline. Your brand needs constant reinforcement. If you bury your brand name, you bury your brand.

Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.