Taglines…Taglines Everywhere

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Have you noticed that marketing has gotten really noisy lately? I was sitting in a client meeting earlier this week, and we were going over a creative brief for an upcoming project — when I opened the document, I was stunned to see this one project had more than five taglines associated with it. 

Wait…what?! Now, I wasn’t a math major, but a 5:1 ratio seems a bit high. But there they were, highlighted and giving meaning to different elements of the project.

I get it, I do — sometimes projects (or campaigns) are so big that it seems impossible to boil it all down to one idea or slogan. But from a branding perspective, and thinking about what we want customers to take away from it, too many ideas out there all at once is just plain confusing.

So, why did the project need a tagline at all? Like a logo, a tagline builds brand recognition. It can help clarify a thought, and it can offer an element of dramatic effect that will make my client’s project memorable. It can succinctly sum the mission, the promise and the brand. And, it will reinforce and strengthen the marketing messages already created. Really, a tagline, or slogan, is an important branding element that helps us define the project/products/services, setting us apart in the market.

Simply, a tagline gives a company and/or a project (campaign) extra meaning to customers.

The question never was if the project needed a tagline, but instead, how do we create a one good tagline that works for the project? Integrating a tagline, or slogan, into marketing efforts is a great way to differentiate a company from its competitors, while reinforcing its general mission. For example, you have a unique offering or competitive advantage in the market, that’s an ideal starting point for developing your tagline. Many times, taglines are the first impression a prospective customer has of your company so you need to make it a good one. 

Here are tips to consider when developing a tagline:

  • Be clear, not clever
    • Communicate your purpose – describe who you are, what you do, what you want customers to know about you
    •  Isolate one key area of your business and integrate it into your tagline
  • Keep it simple but avoid being too general
    • Be direct and specific
  • Just say enough
    • Keep it short and to the point, not every tagline needs an alliteration, clever rhyme or pun
  • Pick your focus and stick with it
    • Make memorable but functional
    • Highlight one key benefit, not all of them
  • Ask yourself this question: “So what?”
    • The answers should reinforce the message of your tagline
  • Be honest
    • First impressions are important, make sure it’s an accurate portrayal of you and your company
    • Make it memorable for the right reasons

To be clear, I’m a big fan of taglines — they offer us marketers a chance to use catchy phrases to convey a specific idea without a lot of words or explanation. I just think they need to be used judiciously, and once there is one, make it work for all the elements of your project (or campaign). And…if a tagline doesn’t work with all the elements, it’s probably not the right tagline for you and your company.