Writing Winning Taglines for Successful Brand Positioning
Here's What it Takes... (Yes, they're included in the issue.)
• 12 Basics Checklist
• 5 Principles for Success
• 5 Types of Tagline Strategies and Styles
– by Mike Hamers, Lightspeed – Edited by Kirsten Nelson, C3 Writing
It’s hard to think of a well-known brand without thinking of its tagline.
The tagline is a short phrase that captures a company’s brand essence, personality, and positioning to distinguish it from its competitors. Taglines were once called slogans and originated from the Gaelic “sluagh-ghairm”, used by Scottish clansmen meaning “war cry”. Slogans have become shorter and punchier, and a crucial part of the branding strategy. They have become an important part of our culture.
Taglines frequently have a shorter life span than the logo and extended visual identity. Like advertising campaigns, they are more susceptible to marketplace and culture changes.
Some have stood the test of time. In 1907, legend has it that President Theodore Roosevelt had just finished a cup of coffee at the Hermitage when he declared it “good to the last drop.” Ten years later, the folks who brewed that cup, a company called Maxwell House, made the former president's coinage their official slogan. Over 100 years later, it still is.
Wheaties, “The Breakfast of Champions” has had the same slogan since 1927, when it erected a billboard at a minor league ballpark with that slogan. In 1934, the first athlete to appear on the iconic cereal box was Lou Gehrig.
Descriptive and simple, taglines are not arbitrary. They should grow out of an intense, creative and strategic process and can be crucial to a company’s success and longevity. Your tagline is another important tool for telling and selling your brand story.
• Tech Tip #1: To me the tagline is sometimes more important than the company name. When I design a logo, I frequently design ‘to the tagline’' to illustrate the idea, feeling and/or concept to get the visual identity working with the words directly. (See Myogen caption.)
Top 12 Tagline Basics
So how do you develop a compelling tagline? Here are 5 Principle for Success
1. Aim your tagline at new customers those who don’t know your company yet as well as your current customers and clients.
2. Don’t confuse a mission statement with a tagline. A mission statement is, by its nature, focused inwardly. A tagline is addressed outwardly into the marketplace.
3. Determine what type of tagline you need: Is it a descriptive phrase to clarify what you do? Is it meant to position your organization against competitors? Or maybe the goal is to pose a provocative question that gets your audience thinking.
(Read the 5 Types of Taglines below.)
4. Let the tagline grow out of your unique value proposition. A tagline’s goal is to differentiate you from your competition – to compel a prospect to choose you over the others. Too often taglines of competing companies are so similar that they are indistinguishable to potential customers looking for cues on which one to hire or buy from.
• Tech Tip #2: Make sure your tagline distinguishes you from the competition based on your company’s greatest virtue or most unique offering. Put some distance between your organization and the rest of the herd.
5. Avoid the words of tagline death, those words that everybody claims, and when added to one another, produce a bland, verbal blur that no one remembers. These buzz-killers will prevent your brand from getting noticed. The top four to avoid are: Quality, Service, Commitment, and Excellence. These words are quickly glossed over because too many companies across too many industries are using them. No doubt, your organization does something better than anyone else on the planet. What exactly is it? Start there, and then find the most compelling, visceral, creative words to describe it.
• Tech Tip #3: Let nouns and verbs do the heavy lifting in your new tagline. Avoid too many adjectives.
5 Types of Tagline Strategies & Styles
Imperative: Commands action; usually starts with a verb, often an action verb
Nike: Just Do It
Apple: Think Different
Kinko’s: Express Yourself
Descriptive: Describes the service, product, or brand promise
UPS: Moving at the speed of business
GE: We bring good things to life
Allstate: You’re in Good Hands
Superlative: Positions the company as best in class
BMW: The ultimate driving machine
DeBeers: A diamond is forever
L’Oreal: Because you’re worth it
Provocative: Thought-provoking; frequently asks a question
Microsoft: Where are you going today?
Capital One: What’s in your wallet?
Dairy Council: Got Milk?
Specific: Establishes leadership in a category
Cisco: Empowering the internet generation
FedEx: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight
Minolta: The essentials of imaging
Thanks for Reading – MH
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