Independent Thinking Blog

Don’t Have a Wonk Brand (Unless, Of Course, You’re a Wonk)

American University has a new advertising campaign around wonkiness. I’m assuming it’s an effort to transform the university’s image from “rich kids party school” to “serious institute of higher learning.”

One of the taglines for AU’s campaign is “Wonk spelled backwards is Know.” Education. Knowledge. Knowledge is cool. I get the theme.

The Washington Nationals, meanwhile, have embraced “Natitude” as their slogan. It’s supposed to be a hip blend of “Nats” and “attitude”–and it took hold just as the team got good and their fans got excited. Hence the #Natitude rally towels.

One brand’s braininess doesn’t blend into another brand’s smartitude.

American University did a fair amount of advertising at Nationals Park this season, including a “Nationals Wonk” t-shirt giveaway. That led to some people (not me) wearing these t-shirts. It’s a far cry from Natitude.

I know the “wonk/know” motif, no matter how dissonant, isn’t going to dilute the brand of a professional baseball team–but what if it were your brand?

Here’s another example: Amgen, a key marketer of EPO drugs, is the lead sponsor of the Tour of California. Sure, the drug wasn’t designed for blood-doping–but still.

All the pieces of your business are part of your brand. 

Sponsorships make sense. So does advertising, and partnerships. The key is to make sure that the deals you make and the deals you take consistently align with your brand.



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