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Last week I spoke to Volkswagen America’s fantastic team of product specialists at their corporate head office in Herndon, VA.  Later, as we handed back our rental car I was surprised to see that Avis just dropped its famous slogan, “We Try Harder.”  The slogan, penned in 1962 used a “springboard” to explain why a customer should choose the number two brand Avis over the number one brand Hertz.  A springboard is a simple psychological technique used to make a strength stand out by bouncing it off a weakness. “We’re number two so we try harder.“ The slogan saved them from financial disaster.  This year the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer Jeannine Haas dumped this superb springboard slogan.

Look at this example. “We may not be the cheapest airline in the marketplace, but we have the best safety record.”  The weakness is a true statement that shows, rather than tells, that you are honest and human.  The strength now shines even more brightly in contrast. In advertising, springboards are used to build loyalty and trust.

You can do the same thing in a job interview.  You might say, “I may not be the most fashionable person at the counter, but I will make great connections with the customers.”  Or, “I might not be the most spontaneous person on the team, but I will be the most thorough.”

The same thing works in online dating.  In your profile, you might springboard by saying, “I might not be the best looking guy on the block, but I look great in a tux.”

Springboards are a simple fast way to build loyalty, trust and memorability.  The next time you need to make yourself or your company stand out make sure you have a springboard up your sleeve.

Avis’s new tagline?   “It’s Your Space.”  Avis is now the number three rental chain, behind Enterprise and — you guessed it — Hertz.

Pity. I still think they’re a great company.

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