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The Greatest Marketing Sinner in the World

…is, believe it or not, one of the most successful global corporations on the planet.

I’m talking about UPS.

Here’s why: UPS has over 120,000 moving billboards (trucks and other vehicles) around the globe, and NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEIR TAGLINE IS.

In the last 15 years, I have asked hundreds of people around the world what is printed on the sides of UPS trucks. Not a single one could answer. Just this week, I asked the wife of a high-level VP at UPS what the trucks say. She didn’t know.

Yet we all see these trucks dozens of times a week. If I see just two of these trucks per weekday, that’s over 500 lost opportunities to speak a meaningful and memorable message to me per year. Ouch.

UPS trucks have (beside the logo) one of two – and sometimes both – tagline phrases printed on them. As you’ll see, neither are memorable or impactful.

“Worldwide Services” speaks truth – UPS does provide services worldwide – but the word “Services” is so generic that it manages to say everything, anything, and nothing all at once. Totally no-impact. This is a sterile description, not a memorable message. It’s like Apple advertising that they create “Products.” The human brain wants vivid specifics, not vague generalities.

“Synchronizing the World of Commerce” also speaks truth – but virtually no-one can possibly appreciate or remember it. This phrase is only meaningful to high-level executives in the supply chain arena of business. Shouldn’t that rather esoteric phraseology be saved for business publications and direct marketing pieces to Chief Operating Officers, instead of wasting all that moving billboard space flashing less-than-meaningful phrases to 99.8% of those who see them? For the average person, this branding is a non-starter.

Those 120,000+ billboards are being seen by the public. The average person. So the message should be simple, clear, relatable, and catchy. What an astounding opportunity to embed an important message in human brains around the world!

I’m a branding consultant, and my specialty is simple, clear messaging. So, UPS, if you’re ready to put those thousands of billboards to GOOD use, let me know. I have some ideas….

Steve Woodruff is known as the King of Clarity, and is the author of the book, Clarity Wins.

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