Knot Pining: Place your slogan here
April 8, 2022
I remain struck by the tagline for WDIO-TV in Duluth: “With You For Life.”
Seems ominous, doesn’t it? It’s a double entendre, maybe. First meaning, perhaps, “with you through this journey of life.”
But if it is a double entendre, I’m not sure if they really want you to think that you are tied to them for your entire being. As a typical Minnesotan, that aggressive connotation is just that, a bit aggressive. I think of “With You From the Cradle to the Grave” or a life sentence in prison.
So does that tagline hit its mark?
I reviewed these thoughts this week when hearing the line for the convenience store chain Casey’s. It states: “We’re Here For Good.” Again, an absolute statement that still leaves a little wiggle room for interpretation. Good products and service, I’m sure they mean. And maybe a sense of permanence. But are they also assuming other competitors are in it for the evilness?
At Kwik Trip, they say “See You Next Time.” Again, as a pure-blood, passive-aggressive Minnesotan, I find this statement a bit presumptuous. It makes me want to play the field, maybe “Make Life Easier” over at Holiday or check out the “Good” at a Casey’s, which would require a lot of spent fuel since there isn’t a Casey’s around for miles.
It’s a tricky game, this sloganeering. While I see the benefit in getting something on the top of a customer’s mind, I’m often feeling that they’re just sloganeering to the sloganeer.
I think of the now long-forgotten effort at the University of Minnesota Duluth to brand itself in 2012. “Those Who Can, Duluth.” Somewhere in there is a pithy play on words, maybe a double meaning. All most of us took from it was wonderment at what kind of masked semantic statement they were trying to make. How does one “Do Luth?”
I get it, a slogan needs to be bold, declarative. That seems to be the common core of professional sloganeers these days. In the case of UMD, there was a monolithic tilt to the other extreme with the banal slogan it’s left with today: “Driven To Discover.” You could slap that on any bumper in the country. Alliteration with Duluth, sure. But a snorefest all the same.
But boring can be effective. Does WDIO really need to tell me just how they feel about their place in my world? Isn’t telling us what’s coming on their schedule enough? Or, more succinctly, “film at 11,” or 10 p.m. here in flyover land.
And, hey, Casey’s, what was wrong with “Food, Fuel & More?” Maybe too boring for execs who want to feel they’re making a meaningful impression on the world.
There are bold statements that work. The all-timer is Nike and its “Just Do It” tag. There’s the simple but instructive, Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” or Capital One’s “What’s In Your Wallet?”
Political slogans are famous for imprinting, such as “I Like Ike.” Presidential races are also a sign of their times, with oddball slogans that may have worked then but require a degree in history to figure out today. “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” “A Full Dinner Pail.” “Vote Yourself A Farm.” In one case, the tagline becomes comical: “Nixon’s the One.” He sure was the one after Watergate broke open.
We’ve wrestled with slogans here at the Pine Knot. You’ve seen them in promotion ads here and there and on some merch. They aren’t workshopped wonders. They aren’t formed through a large committee and focus-grouped. They have, for the most part, been puns off our unique name, or, more specifically, on the word “Knot.” It’s easy work, really. It can be a bit tricky, since “Knot” is linked to “not,” which tends to lean into negative constructions.
Would “Knot Your Father’s Oldsmobile” even make sense? “Why Knot?” is good, but then requires a lengthy explanation of our merits.
We all can’t be the New York Times and its “All The News That’s Fit To Print,” which in deep introspection has a chime of elitism to it. There’s a shelf of coffee cups in my home, from newspapers of my past. Leave it to muckety-mucks who haven’t spent a day in the journalistic trenches to come up with tripe such as “News You Can Use,” “Your Place To Be,” or “Improved. In Depth. In Touch.”
No, thank you. There is a Pine Knot slogan rattling around in my head. It’s bold, a bit invasive. It has obvious and hidden meaning, the gist being the overwhelming news and information authority the Pine Knot News is for the area. In short, I think my little ditty works in the current sloganeering realm. Get ready.
“Pine Knot News. We Know Where You Live.”
So subscribe and advertise. Or else.