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Developing a tagline Wikipedia (2007)

Case study by Dewey Hammond
To read this case study online: Taglines need to be unique, relevant, memorable, and elicit an emotional response, which is why writing a great tagline is so difficult: The checklist is usually longer than the tagline itself. Why Wikipedia's current tagline falls flat The Free Encyclopedia may be relevant, but it is neither unique nor memorable, and it doesn't resonate emotionally with consumers. Instead it is an uninspiring description that promotes a non-exclusive feature instead of more relevant consumer benefits. It also fails to leverage Wikipedia's unique proposition. Wikipedia’s unique proposition What differentiates Wikipedia is that it is an encyclopedia built collaboratively by its users, and also that it is in a constant state of change, expansion and improvement. Wikipedia embraces the fact that knowledge is a moving target, and it invites users to be valuable assets in the ongoing efforts to improve its product. An effective tagline must support both collaboration and continuity. Recommendation: Bring Knowledge to Life • Bring is an invitation to participate and a reminder that the active participation of users is welcome and necessary • Knowledge is the foundation upon which Wikipedia exists • Life evokes feelings of constant maturation—change, expansion and improvement Why it works Bring Knowledge to Life is short, relevant and memorable, and it resonates emotionally with Wikipedia’s key stakeholders: readers and contributors (i.e., writers, editors, employees and financial supporters). For readers, Wikipedia brings knowledge to life in a way that can be both relevant and emotional. “Smith” is no longer just a surname; it is a history and story that can be shared with friends and family. St. Louis is no longer just a city; it’s the American “birthplace” of iced tea (St. Louis World Fair, 1904). Contributors facilitate the creation, development, processing and dissemination of knowledge. They are emotionally vested in a product with which they share a sense of mission, and for them the tagline represents an opportunity, not a directive. And because contributors are also readers, the emotional attachment is amplified. Though similar in sound and strategy to GE’s recently retired We Bring Good Things to Life, Bring Knowledge to Life is unique in a specific and strategic way: the conspicuous absence of “we,” an omission by design that stresses that Wikipedia alone is not responsible for the success of its product.

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Close but not quite • Bring Knowledge Alive is on strategy, and it is shorter, but it is not as memorable. • Bring Information to Life also is on strategy, but it lacks emotional appeal. • Nurture Knowledge is inviting, emotionally relevant and appeals to key stakeholders, but it does not convey continuity, and also may be too singsongy. Throwaways • Encyclopedia Evolved1 • Where Knowledge Lives2 • Kill Curiosity3 • Fill in the Blanks4 • Perfection in Progress5 • Living, Breathing Knowledge6 • Knowledge Brought to Life7 • Everything You’ll Ever Want to Know8 • In Case You Didn’t Know Already9 • Where You Go When You Want to Know10 • For What You Don’t Know11 • Go Ahead, Explore12 • Breathe Life into Knowledge13

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1 An interesting concept, but lacks emotional appeal and is not inviting 2 Nice emotional appeal, but fails to convey a sense of collaboration 3 Mostly on strategy except kill is too negative and curiosity not always relevant 4 Mostly on strategy except fill is a directive, and the strategy calls for an invitation 5 Arguably on strategy, but needs to convey a stronger sense of collaboration 6 An interesting concept, but is not inviting and may lack emotional appeal 7 Inspirational, but use of past tense runs counter to continuity 8 Too long, not believable, and does not convey collaboration 9 Too long, and does not resonate with all stakeholders 10 Too long, and does not resonate with all stakeholders 11 Does not resonate with all stakeholders 12 Does not resonate with all stakeholders 13 Does not resonate with all stakeholders

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