Creating a New Tagline

Last week was tagline week.  Not only did we add a tagline to (coming soon, really) but we had more than one client ask us about creating a tagline.  And each one got a different answer.

Taglines are short phrases that succinctly capture the value your company provides, describes your unique selling proposition or provides the central thesis for your marketing.  Expected to live beyond a single campaign, a tagline should be the common element in all your marketing.

But is your company looking for a tagline because it expects 3 or 5 magical words to help you turn the corner on lead generation and sales?    Does your team think that a marketing tagline will make everything all better?

Taglines aren’t magic.  Sometimes they are campaign-specific.  The “Where’s the Beef?” campaign from Wendy’s.  Would that have worked in multiple campaigns or did it only make sense when attached to Clara Peller?  (Actually, Wendy’s did use the tagline for quite a while in other campaigns but it never really achieved the same heights, IMO.)

Taglines help identify what a company does when the company has an otherwise unremarkable or unidentifiable name.  Proper names, made up words and letters or numbers often give casual observers no clue as to what a company actually does.  A tagline helps.

But before you can affix a tagline or slogan to your company’s name or logo, there needs to be an understanding of why you want a tagline and whether you really need one or not.

Take a step back and consider your marketing goals.  Are your goals very sales-oriented and specific?  Are your goals things like number of leads and prospects?  A tagline probably isn’t going to make the slightest bit of difference in your quest.  Are your goals more oriented to branding?   A tagline may be in order.

Do you have a sense of how prospects and current customers view your company right now?  How does your team currently describe your company and your product? Are there words everyone uses already?  Do you have an effective tagline already?

Consider some of the great taglines in marketing history.  Can your tagline do for your business what “We try harder” or “A diamond is forever” did for Avis or DeBeers?  FedEx’s “Absolutely positively overnight” phrase encapsulated the entire firm’s reason for being in business in a single phrase.

  • Nike “Just do it” (Get off your butt and move, preferably in our sneakers.)
  • Avis “We try harder” (We’re the second largest car rental company and we’ve made service a priority)
  • DeBeers “A diamond is forever” (Spend big bucks on that engagement ring because it’s going to make a dent in her finger for the rest of her life, and get passed down for eternity.)
  • Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now?” (Use our cell phones and stopping yelling into yours in public)
  • Hallmark “When you care enough to send the very best” (No bargain cards for you, Mr. Big Spender, because you care.)

Work with your marketing team to first decide if you really need a tagline.  Then decide what you want to accomplish with your tagline project.  Then decide what kind of a tagline you would like.  Is it descriptive of what you do?  Is it descriptive of who you are?  Does it tell the world who should be your customer?  Is it aspirational or inspirational?  (In other words, does it describe how you would like to be seen or does it describe what you are like now, and inspire people to want to work with you?)

Tagline projects:

  • Preparation:  review competitive taglines and positioning for direct competition and companies in adjacent industries.
  • Coach team through conversation about the value of a tagline and prioritize a tagline in terms of other projects.  (Maybe you need to focus on having a marketing plan first.)
  • Discuss goals for project and marketing as a whole.
  • Facilitate senior team conversations designed to jointly create a number of tagline options
  • Help senior team narrow options.