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Brand Babble: Goya® ... Forgetting Its Roots as an Original

Goya Screen

Goya Foods is an iconic American food brand with a deep and successful history in bringing Hispanic food products to the American market. They were the first to mass distribute and nationally advertise what was an "ethnic" product category and therefore limited in its appeal. Proving the pundits wrong, they made the brand into a nationally recognized specialty food brand and, as such, the market leader and an American original.

But they've been running a series of ads while true in its copy and image positioning as a specialty food brand for all Americans, they conclude their TV spots with the following:

"If it's Goya, it has to be good."

Tag lines need to follow the time-honored branding rule of making a relevant promise to its customers and a unique differentiation from its competitors. Given the thousands of ad messages and the empowerment that today's consumers feel to pick and choose the brands with which they'll engage, tag-lines must be crafted as memorable sound bites with sufficient punch and poignancy that readers or listeners feel compelled to store the message in their neuro-synoptic warehouse for future recall.

Putting aside the intellectual property question as to whether the Goya line infringes on Smucker's classic and playfully self-deprecating tag line:

"With a name Like Smucker's, it has to be good!"

We can use the Smucker's brand image as reflected here to see why it works so well and correspondingly why the Goya "knock-off" doesn't. First, the phrasing flows with a conversational tone about the name and the product. Secondly, there is a genuineness, a truism that rings with isn't a made-up brand name trying to sell you something...In fact, it might just be a liability, but it's who we are and were sticking to it! The Goya line lacks punch and it doesn't tell us why " has to be good" whereas the Smucker's line does.

What Goya could have done was to simplify the message and make it into a sound bite:

"Goya Foods...Goya Good"

The alliteration makes it easier to remember and the "promise" provides the opportunity to re-set the message without changing its cadence or punch. So, for example, brand managers could introduce specific product categories ("Goya Rice...Goya Good" or black beans, etc.) which extends the campaign organically, aligning it with traditional success metrics such as frequency and repetition. In place of a one-shot message, the campaign now has legs!

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