So many brand/comms ideas feel so similar nowadays and it’s not just because everyone reads the same reports and does the same research. It’s because we, as a profession, have lost confidence in our ability to make what we make interesting, writes Shai Idelson, Strategy Director and Creative, BBH.

I love end-lines.

The delicate art of capturing a meaningful thought about a brand or a product in as few words as possible. A great end-line will touch my heart and stay in my memory forever. I still remember some from my childhood. But in the last few years, something happened to end-lines. Here are 27 lines used in consumer facing marketing communications from the last 5 years:

1. Find Your Beach
2. Find Your Strong
3. Find Your Greatness
4. Find Your Fit
5. Find Your Epic
6. Find Your Forte
7. Find Your Happy
8. Find Your Hair Happy
9. Find Your Edge
10. Find Your Flow
11. Find Your Fun
12. Find Your Volcano
13. Find Your Force
14. Find Your More
15. Find Your Essence
16. Find Your Unusual
17. Find Your Flavour
18. Find Your Fave
19. Find Your Extraordinary
20. Find Your Naked
21. Find Your Grit
22. Find Your Belfast
23. Find Your Tribe
24. Find Your Freedom
25. Find Your Own Lane
26. Find Your Dancing Feet
27. Find Your X

The linguistic similarity is staggering. But the strategic similarity is troubling. You see, “Find Your_____” is just a variation on the end-line template of “Verb Your_____”.  

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Take a verb

Step 2: Add “Your”

Step 3: Finish it off with a word that has something to do with what you’re selling.


1. Electrolyse Your Exercise
2. Hydrate Your World
3. Move Your Lee
4. Feed Your Happy
5. Feed Your Good
6. Fuel Your Journey
7. Open Your World
8. Unrush Your World
9. Widen Your World
10. Discover Your Smile
11. Empower Your Vision
12. Unbox Your Phone
13. Lite Your Way
14. Bin It Your Way
15. Run Your Way
16. Eat Your Way

These too are lines used in consumer facing marketing communications. You’ll see many of them on a street, screen, or shelf near you.  Again, what’s worrying is not the linguistic similarity, it’s how they’re almost strategically identical. All of these, along with their “Find Your____ ” siblings, try to sell you something by telling you to “be yourself” or “be unique”.

But of course by doing that, as pieces marketing communications, they become anything but.

I used to think the problem lies in the fact that everyone reads and follows the same “millennial trend reports.” And that’s a part of it. But Jonathan Bottomley, ex-CSO of BBH and now CMO of Ralph Lauren, helped me understand WHY so many brands find their ideas in trend reports when he said this:

We, as a profession, have lost confidence in our ability to make what we make interesting.

That’s a powerful thought. One that also helps explain why, as my colleague Tom Roach wrote, most ads out there are all but invisible. Because when you don’t believe what your client makes can be made interesting, you avoid talking about it. Resorting instead to sourcing an idea from audience “values” or “mindset”. And because everyone reads the same reports (that in the last few years spoke about millennials wanting to be “individuals”), an idea for a car brand ends up being very similar to an idea for a toilet cleaner brand. 

And when you don’t believe what you make can be made interesting, you avoid taking creative leaps. Resorting instead to cramming messages into the first 5 seconds (quick, before they skip!) and let the digital platforms spam people’s eyes with meaningless banners disguised as social posts. It wasn’t always like that. And it doesn’t have to be like that. Some of the best brand and campaign ideas came when people in our industry had belief in two things:

  1. The belief that if you, as Sir Nigel Bogle said, “Interrogate a thing to within an inch of its life, it will reveal its true essence.”
  2. The belief that we, as a collection of creative people, can make whatever truth we find interesting, distinctive, and appealing.

That’s why ideas like Audi’s Vorsprung Durch Technik and Tesco’s Every Little Helps keep on giving and giving.

I bet that’s how some of the best brand and campaign lines came to be: BMW’s The Ultimate Driving Machine, Snickers’ You’re Not You When You’re Hungry, KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good,  VW’s iconic Think Small and many many more. And yes, I know. I’m mixing brand end-lines with campaign lines but the point is the same; when you believe in your ability to make what you make interesting, people are interested in what you make. So what’s next? I think we have two options:

1. Find confidence
Interrogate our clients’ brand and products to unearth an interesting truth about and then use creativity to turn it into a memorable idea. It’s obviously harder than it sounds but we have to try. Because the alternative is already here and it is not terribly promising.

2. Find the next trend to latch on to
In the last 12 months or so, a new trend has emerged. The linguistic similarities aren’t here yet but the strategic direction is clear: we’re in an era when everything can be sold by telling people to “be inclusive, appreciate diversity and be generally woke”. Saturday Night Live has been having fun with it and they’re 100% bang on. 

The new “be yourself” is “be open”. Diversity is a communications strategy.

(Side note: diversity should be a business strategy impacting all facets of an organisation, not just a communication or casting approach. But that’s a topic for another time).

The bottom line is this, we keep telling customers to be themselves. Maybe it’s time we pointed that same call to action at ourselves and our clients’ brands.


17 Responses

  1. Good thinking Shai. Would add that the audience ultimately needs continuity to be deeply interested. The story needs another episode, somewhere to go. That’s why series will win over one off spots.


    mikeedgell com

  2. Love the Audi clowns ad.

    Enjoyed the post.

    It mirrors my experience, especially in the last decade or so.

    Technology is partly to blame.

    But mostly it’s people who simply don’t care—about consumers, the profession, the basics . . . .

    The ability to string together a grammatically correct sentence or painfully terse tagline is not the same as the ability to emotionally engage consumers.

    Words may have nothing to do with it.

    Words may have everything to do with it.

  3. We are people communicating with people. It can’t be difficult to communicate something interesting, when we have such a sophisticated set of tools at our disposal, surely

  4. A brilliant deconstruction of advertising’s current state of affairs. One point to add, it used to be clients also believed in the role we played and the creativity we utilised to breathe life into their brands. I fear that with the rabid obsession with data and automation clients believe themselves to be capable of dictating the what,
    why, when, where and how of the entire creative process, limiting room for play, spontaneity, risk taking and magic. I wonder if our confidence levels is the only thing we need to tackle, perhaps it’s also our clients’ over confidence that we should try to influence.

  5. That’s a good look at the guff fountain spouting out of so many marketing teams. Clients don’t help when they have an expectation you will be the next [insert name here] and so that is the style teams ape. It doesn’t encourage risk takers or people who want to try something by being themselves. (And when the people being themselves all read the same stuff, went through the same college courses and are of a similar demographic, that doesn’t help either. It also could be a factor that the products are pretty undesirable or unnecessary too!

  6. Great post. Finding the confidence is key I think. Because when it’s found it unlocks brands, their performance and often the careers of those who took the time to grind it out in the first place. I had the privilege of working at BBH twice in my advertising career. Confidence for me was beautifully captured in what is still one of my favourite Audi spots, created when I was there during my first stint in the mid 90s. Just think how much confidence and bravery every single person who touched this piece of work put into it, by backing themselves, their work, and the brand’s own stature to make the counter-intuitive point of this so beautifully…interesting.


  7. This article is so on point! Creativity is lost when we all follow trends. If we’re all following the latest trend, who will set the new trend or be the alternative? Producers & Creatives are meant to create & innovate not merely copy and paste! We need to get back to original ideas, creating variations offering the new! We Need to get back to creative!

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