Healthcare Marketing: Should “We Try Harder”, Keep Tagline Longer?

Another tagline bites the dust!

Avis drops it’s branding line “We Try Harder” …after 50 years.

Avis Car Rental has recently announced they are dropping their iconic brand positioning line, “We Try Harder,” and replacing it with “It’s Your Space.”  Whether that’s a smart move will be determined but from an outsider looking in, I might have to question the move.

“We Try Harder” was introduced in 1962 by Avis with the help of DDB and became the brand’s promise about the quality of its service and as a way to position itself against the category leader Hertz. It was a huge success for Avis. In a matter of a single year, that campaign reversed the company’s fortunes, helping it to go from losing $3.2 million to turning a profit of $1.2 million for the first time in 13 years. It worked!  And it identified a brand.

Now it is being replaced with “It’s Your Space.”  One has to ask, what promise does that line really deliver?  The firm is repositioning itself to appeal to business travelers who spend a lot time in rental cars and trying to communicate that time inside a rental car is where business travelers can recharge or be the most productive time while traveling.  Maybe it will work but it seems a stretch to me.

Maybe it was time to abandon the old line since Avis had fallen from the number two car rental company to number three behind Enterprise Holdings (Alamo, Enterprise, National) and Hertz.  Maybe the company had stopped trying harder.  Or maybe they indeed do need to reposition itself for business rather than leisure travelers and this was to way to do it.  But you sure hate to see a classic, effective and company-defining line disappear.

For hospital marketers, branding lines come and go.  And I would be one of the first to say they need to be periodically updated and changed as the brand and the market landscape changes.  But it should be a strategic move based on sound research and not just on a whim.  Internally we may get tired of a branding line but it is often long before it becomes ineffective with the consumer.  And with a line like the one used by Avis to brand, position and define the company and which is firmly implanted in consumers’ minds, marketers need to be very cautious before making a change.

There are some very solid reasons a branding line should be changed from time to time but we must be sure it’s a strategic reason and not just because we are tired of the old one.  If the one we are currently using was strategically developed and implemented and it was effective, about the only reason to change is because the brand, the market or the competitive landscape has changed.  We must be very sure there are strong reasons to give up the brand equity that has been developed with the current line to start over with a new one.

Again, I’m not against changing lines but only after research and deliberate consideration.  And as hospital marketers, we must be sure the new brand positioning line is better and stronger and connects better with our audiences.  For Avis, I’m not sure “It’s Your Space” does that.  I just wished they had tried harder.

 

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