I See (Unintended) Branding Irony (Again)


[author: Steve Baird ]

Dan sees blue ovals, I see and enjoy branding irony — especially irony that appears unintended.

Take the example to the right, an ad for EagleBank, a community bank operating in the Washington, D.C. area.

While mingling with more than 9,000 other trademark lawyers from around the world who have descended upon the Washington, D.C. area for the International Trademark Association’s annual meeting, I noticed an EagleBank ad in one of the Metro stations, sporting the tagline “We’re listening” — positioned directly beneath the EagleBank name and logo.

My first thought was, I’ve heard about “eagle eyes” and the superior vision of eagles, but I’ve never associated eagles with exceptional hearing, much less listening skills.

Believe me, after nearly twenty-five years of marriage, trust me, I do know the difference between listening and hearing, but I think even my wife would agree hearing is a prerequisite to listening, so I’ll continue along this line of thought without skipping another beat.

So, as it appears, I’m not the only one who has wondered about the hearing prowess of the national bird, and as it turns out, eagles hear no better than humans. Since eagles are not renown for their hearing, but they are distinguished by their incredible sight, why associate tagline messaging around ears when the bird having exceptional sight is at the core of the brand’s name?

There actually is a phrase known as “eagle ears” — unfortunately for EagleBank, it means: “Someone who claims they can hear everything but cannot.” Ouch, how’s that for a dose of (presumably) unintended irony?

Earlier today Mark Prus wrote about the importance of checking for unintended and inappropriate meanings of brand names in foreign languages — I’m thinking that checking the Urban Dictionary for slang meanings might be as important too.

Interestingly, EagleBank’s website sports a different tagline: “Focused on You.” And, without a doubt, this tagline seems much more compatible with the EagleBank brand name.

Perhaps D*MNGOOD, the creative agency of record for EagleBank, is actually that, and noticed the need to bring some consistency between the brand name and tagline, but they’re still working through the old print media?

What do you think, how important is it for a brand name and the associated tagline to work together and avoid unintended irony?


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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