Strapline clichés to avoid: the alliterative triplet

Need to come up with a strapline that really sums up your company? Think carefully before going the way of the alliterative triplet.

Alliterative triplets are straplines where three words are chosen not because they capture the very essence of the brand they describe, but because, well, they just happen to share the same initial letter.

They’re the corporate equivalent of the bad poem that rhymes for the sake of it.

Before going down this route, ask yourself if a triplet such as the following really captures the unique selling points of the business it purports to describe:

Define, design, deliver

According to the first page of a Google search alone, this strapline is used by a brand and marketing communications agency, a firm of website designers and “a full service provider dedicated to developing Integrated Payment Processing Solutions” (whatever they are).

If the ubiquity of the strapline doesn’t convince you that it’s a meaningless cliché that could describe a whole host of businesses, then perhaps the fact that it’s just one of several similar triplets alliterating on the letter “d” will:

Design, develop, deliver

Again, the first page of a Google search reveals this formulaic strapline to be used by two different web design firms, an SEO specialist, and the organisers of a conference to develop young leaders.

Or how about:

Discover, design, deliver

This version is used by a firm of information architects, a company offering creative design services, and some IT consultants – again, that’s just the first page of a Google search for the strapline.

Any letter will do – you’ll find variations of all of these:

Consult, create, communicate

Identify, innovate, inspire

Strategy, solutions, success

Tailored, timely, targeted

Sometimes, the desire to complete the alliteration produces comic results, as with the London marcomms agency that sums itself up with not three, but four, alliterating words:

Insight, ideas, impact, interrogate

I can only think that the inclusion of the bizarre word “interrogate” here was the idea of the company’s CEO – for who else could get away unchallenged with such a ridiculous contribution to the company brand?

The random use of a verb after three nouns would be enough to make you wonder if this is a firm populated by illiterates who can’t tell the difference between a doing word and a person, place or thing.

But worse still, that jarring verb “interrogate” seems to imply that they’re as likely to suggest you include a bit of waterboarding in your marketing mix as a customer newsletter or a Twitter account.

I suspect they were trying to convey some sense that they bring intellectual rigour to the process of devising your marketing strategy.

The fact that they have failed to apply any commonsense or brainpower whatsoever to devising their own strapline rather suggests otherwise.

Coming soon

Strapline clichés to avoid: the “passionate” strapline

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4 Responses to “Strapline clichés to avoid: the alliterative triplet”

  1. Brad Shorr says:

    Clare, You are so right. We need more words.

    Discover, Dissect, Design, Deliver, Divulge, Disappear

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

  2. Clare Lynch says:

    Brad, you’ve inspired me to come up with the strapline that perfectly captures my approach to business jargon: Deplore, Deride, Destroy

  3. Jody Bruner says:

    This triplet is on a bus shelter ad near my office. It’s the lack of parallel structure that is slowly driving me crazy: passionate. innovative. experience. Grrrrr. I actually have to avert my eyes when I walk by it.

  4. Clare Lynch says:

    Ooh, that would make me wince, too. I’d be tempted to take a Lynn Truss approach and sneak down there at night with a marker pen. Vocab-wise, you’d still be left with at least two corporate cliches (“passionate” and “innovative”), but a nifty “d” inserted at the end of “experience” would add a little bit of sanity.

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