Even if you are not a moviegoer, even if you are not a “Star Wars” franchise fan, probably you are familiar with this line: “May the Force Be with You.”
This line was historically, and sometimes subconsciously, identified with the “Star Wars”, no matter what the critics said. This is what both marketers and loyal customers call a “Tagline”.
So, What Is a Tagline?
The tagline is the little phrase that accompanies your business logo. It complements the logo, providing additional information, such as the brand’s values, its philosophy, its promises, its domain, etc. Some also refer to it as a corporate slogan.
Tagline (also called Brand Signature in France and Baseline in the UK). It is that essential little phrase (or two) to reveal the essence of your company.
What Does Tagline Say?
A name and a logo can mean a lot, but they never say it all. The tagline is used to convey additional information about your business or brand and to trigger the desire to connect with it.
A company without a tagline is like an employee’s business card without their title. The name “Carlos Ghosn” doesn’t mean much to you, but “Carlos Ghosn, CEO” is already much more informative.
💡 Note that taglines are not reserved for world-famous brands, any small or self-employed person can benefit from it.
The 6 Qualities of an Effective Tagline 👌
- You are different. Say it, avoid cliché and superlatives.
- It cannot have been used before (if you want to save it, you will have to do a prior art search).
- It must convey a credible and lasting promise.
- The average length is 4 words and rarely exceeds 8 words.
- Without ambiguity or implication.
- Immediately recognizable, easy to remember.
Some Famous Taglines 🕺
- Jurassic Park — “Life finds a way.”
- BMW — “The ultimate driving machine.”
- Apple — “Think different.”
- Nokia — “Connecting people.”
- Nike — “Just do it.”
- VW — “das Auto.”
- Adidas — “Impossible is Nothing.”
- Coca-Cola — “Open Happiness.”
Tagline vs. Slogan
Unlike the advertising slogan or advertising hook term, which occasionally accompanies the advertising of a product or a service, the tagline lives to strengthen the branding of your industry on different communication media. It is often an integral part of your logo.
While the tagline lives for the brand, the slogan is at the service of the product. Also, very few slogans stand the test of time.
👉 The purpose of a tagline is to associate the product with positive images to entice the consumer to buy. Often associated with music, the tagline also borrows some of its techniques from poetry and literature.
Who didn’t notice the Xerox Shakespearean tagline “To scan or not to scan”? 🤔
In other words, a tagline rarely arises spontaneously. Constructed with a method, it is the result of rigorous analysis and an exercise in high-level creativity. That’s only the price for a catchy tagline that’s fun and easy to remember.
Psychology of Tagline
Before we delve into it, one might ask a plausible question: Do I really need a tagline?
To answer this question, let’s talk about a few cases where it can be beneficial.
When you have a personal brand, it can be really helpful to have an autograph, a phrase, something that explains what you do, who you do it for, so that people get more context than just your name.
💡 A Tagline Can Add Extra Context for Brand Name
Your name isn’t going to tell them how you can help them, but your title or your tagline can.
Similarly, if you have a brand name that doesn’t mean something intrinsically to people when they hear it, having the tagline or the slogan, or even just a description of what you do, as the subtitle to your brand, can add to the understanding.
We don’t ever want to confuse people, or have them wonder if we can help them at all, because they’ll just leave, and go find somebody that they know will help them.
Types of Taglines
There are three types of taglines that we often recommend for our clients. Actually, there isn’t necessarily a right answer. Sometimes it works best to just brainstorm the available options in each of these three categories to select the best option that you come up with.
These three types are:
1. Differentiation Tagline
If you imagine the Differentiation Tagline as a call for a gathering, why should people pick you over everybody else in the world?
Apple’s differentiation tagline is “Think Different.” 🍎
It is like that call for gathering. We are buying a PC because we’re creative, aren’t we?
Loreal’s — “Because You’re Worth It.” 💄
Again, they’re pushing their point of view out to the market, so that we, as consumers, can pick a company that we resonate with.
It is reinforcing how they’re different from other options in the market.
Other insurance companies might be cold, or impersonal, but State Farm is completely different. It is “Like a Good Neighbor” who will help you when you have an emergency.
2. Result-oriented Tagline
It is a tagline that depends on the results or the outcome.
M&M’s famous tagline is “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand” so it’s just telling you what happens to the product, it tells you why it’s special, why would you want to eat M&Ms, as opposed to a Snicker’s bar? Good news for you, if you are a mother, hopefully, you don’t have to clean up as many messes.
Also, there is the Southwest Airlines decisive tagline: “Ding. You Are Now Free to Move About the Country.” ✈️
Again, just reinforcing the outcome, what you do with people, it’s not just an airline, you are giving the people the chance to travel cheaply, whether that’s on a vacation or to see their loved ones; and giving you a trigger, that “Ding” sound, that we hear on airplanes, to reinforce their brand identity and what they do for you.
3. Literal Tagline
It can just tell people what you do, this one isn’t as emotionally resonant, but it can be really effective if like I said before, your name doesn’t distinctly explain what you do.
The New York Times tagline is “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, a differentiation point there too, but again, it’s just telling us that it is a news platform that’s only going to share the most important concepts.
So, brainstorm different options within each of these three categories, and I am confident that you are going to land on something that is amazing for your brand.
Even if you don’t find one, that’s most amazing; you may opt for headlines, social media graphics, quote graphics. Use all of your intellectual hard work in different places.
💡 Keep It Emotional
Remember! Your client psychology in all of this. Therefore, unless you have a really confusing name, we would definitely recommend moving towards either the differentiation tagline or the results and outcome one, because those have more of an emotional impact on your targeted audience.
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From Simple to Abstract: Tagline Examples
Each one of these examples has been around for decades and is worth billions of dollars, yet somehow people think their much smaller business should have equally abstract taglines as these gigantic companies.
Before you build your $1B brand, logically, you might want to start off a little smaller. What you might not know is that a lot of those previous companies had different taglines at different points in history. When the company was small, it had a different tagline than when the company grew big.
McDonald’s Tagline Evolution: 🥪
In the 60s: Real Good, and Still Only 15 Cents.
The 2000s to Present: I’m Lovin’ It.
Imagine that you are going to start a website developing agency that will eventually become an international marketing enterprise.
Tagline for a Starting Office
When you are a $0 your business before receiving a single client, our tagline would probably be something like: “Our dear client. We can help you with your website.” Something very simple and to the point that describes the type of your business.
Tagline for a Growing Office
When we are at a $100,000 a year company, perhaps your tagline could be 👉 “We can help you with a webpage and copywriting.”
Tagline for a Small Company
You have really grown and you earn $1M a year, your tagline could be 👉 “The trusted agency for offline businesses.”
Notably, that is a well-descriptive line, but still abstract, since you carry out many services.
Tagline for a Medium Company
You are making $100M a year, your tagline could be something Like 👉 “Marketing on point.”
You want your tagline to be a little bit abstract because at $100M a year you are offering a lot of different services for companies. You are taking care of their SEO, their websites, their copywriting, their advert campaigns, and so on.
A Tagline for an Enterprise
When you get to a $1B a year, your tagline can be very abstract and aspirational. It could be like 👉 “Tell the world”
Because you are telling the world that your company can handle all aspects of their work.
From a $0 your business our tagline was “Our dear client …” and that a $1B a year the tagline is “Tell the world.”
As a starter business, having an abstract taglines world would be really useless to you. However, once you start closing those gigantic deals, and handle the marketing for fortune 500 brands, then probably “Tell the world” would be the more appropriate tagline.
Three Steps to Create an Amazing Tagline
- Step 1: Summarize your entire business in a few sentences. Write down whatever you need.
- Step 2: Edit and reduce.
- Step 3: Condense into a short sentence.
👉 Here Are Some Examples of How to Create a Good Tagline
SUMO.com is a company specialized in website management and automation.
Step 1: Summarize the entire business in a few sentences.
That would be like 👉 “We create tools that can manage any webpage to help promote and share your website to get more traffic through several tools; share buttons; welcome mats; pop-up email collects, and more.”
Step 2: Edit and reduce.
Let’s reduce it into about a sentence and that would sound like this 👉 “Tools can manage your email to help promote and share your website to get more traffic.”
Step 3: Condense into a short sentence.
“Free tools to automate your site growth”
That is a short and explanatory tagline that we can use everywhere.
2. WP Engine
WPengine.com is a WordPress hosting platform
Step 1: Summarize
“It’s really cheap to host a WordPress site, but when something goes wrong, your host will be nowhere to be found. Also, WP gets hacked if you don’t upgrade it, or choose poorly designed plugins, that’s where WP Engine comes in.”
Step 2: Edit
“WP engine makes hosting a website on WordPress super easy. We are almost the perfect website host.”
Step 3: Condense
“WordPress hosting perfected.”
That is a beautifully short tagline that describes the whole company’s business.
I mean the GEICO Insurance Agency
The tagline is 👉 “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
Geico’s tagline is highly communicable, because it is packed with information, and only about 10-word long. Compare Geico’s tagline with a few of their top competitors and insurance companies. Can you make any idea what they sell? Based only on their taglines? GEICO’s tagline can tell the reader what they sell. That’s why Geico’s tagline can be used for a small or an enterprise insurance business.
Remember this 3-step formula when making up your own business tagline.
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Do not embark on this adventure alone, get advice. Mediocrity is not an option!
If you nevertheless decide to come up with a tagline by yourself, know that you must start with brainstorming.
Establish a list of ideas, associations, expressions that inspire you in your activity or your product. A bit like a long list of names, you will then filter it to a short one.
You will remember a few lines that you will then test around you, preferably with a neutral group, not involved in your project. This test, to be effective, must also include specific questions to determine whether the tagline has the 6 essential qualities.
You will thus have essential feedback on their quality and relevance.