taglines | neon sign: Reno: The Biggest Little City in the World

Everything You Wanted to Know About Taglines, But Were Afraid to Ask

I’ve had some head-scratching conversations about taglines over the years. It seems that when a company lacks a strong brand message and identity, they think a tagline will fix everything. Just as having a baby won’t fix a marriage, a pithy phrase will not fix a brand (or lack thereof).


Let’s dive into everything taglines, including how to write one that will support and enhance your brand.


What’s a tagline?


It’s a short statement that summarizes what your brand is and how it’s unique. 


The best ones are memorable and become associated with the brand. Favorite examples of mine are: 


It’s everywhere you want to be – Visa 


This tagline immediately brings to mind traveling to an amazing destination. Plus, it’s aspirational, inspirational and reassuring.  


Fewer, better things – Cuyana


This San Francisco-based women’s retailer focuses on quality over quantity, a philosophy that I am 100% aligned on.


Your neighborhood grocery store – Trader Joe’s


Though this tagline doesn’t represent how quirky and fun the brand is, it does accurately represent each store’s welcoming and friendly vibe.


The worst taglines are generic and could apply to any business in any industry. Example A: Delivering results. Solving challenges. 


So many questions: What are the results? Who is having the challenges? What are the challenges? Doesn’t the challenge come before the results? How do you “deliver” and “solve” better than someone else? And what friggin’ industry are you in?


Jumping off one soapbox and onto another: A tagline is not a slogan. A tagline encompasses your entire brand, while a slogan is created for a specific product, service or marketing campaign.


Do you need one?


Not necessarily, but they are handy for marketing and branding. 


For one thing, a tagline quickly reminds people what your company is about and how you’re different from your competitors. When you use it on all your marketing materials – digital and print – your tagline will become synonymous with your brand.


Second, it can help shape your clients’ perception of your company. Your brand is what people say about it/you when you’re not around, so jump-starting that narrative is important. 


How to write one


Start with your brand position


A brand positioning statement includes two things: who your audience is and how you serve them. It’s used internally to guide marketing messages, but it’s also a great starting point for your tagline. 


Answer these questions:


  • How are you different from your competitors? 
  • What do you do better than everyone else?
  • What value do you offer that no one else does? 


(Yes, these questions are variations on a theme.) 


Jot down your answers, but don’t wordsmith them. Brainstorming is better without any editing.


If you offer a commoditized product or service (auto parts or tax prep), the thing that makes you stand out might be your responsive and helpful customer service. 


Now read your responses. No matter what kind of marketing copy you write, always ask yourself, “So what?” This ensures that your tagline options say something of value. If you shrug at any option, this is the time to either trash it or edit it to make it stronger.


Weave in emotion


The taglines I cited above do this. Visa’s evokes happy feelings of being on vacation. Cuyana’s reminds me that better things are also better for our planet. Trader Joe’s has me counting the number of times I’ve run into friends while grocery shopping (always a delightful surprise).


Successful marketing creates an emotional response. Your ideal client should read your tagline and respond, “I want that!” That could be a vacation in Bali, cashmere sweater, or limited time flavor of Joe Joe’s cookies. 


What kind of feelings do you want your brand to elicit in your clients? What words can you use in your tagline to accomplish that? Think about simple, straightforward language that uses action verbs. If there’s a time to break out the Thesaurus, it’s now.


Now edit


I’m not gonna leave you hanging with a vague directive to go edit your options. Here’s what I do when working on brand messaging, tagline included.


Try combining words and phrases that you really like for more options.  


If it’s authentic to your business and will resonate with your audience, a play on words or a tagline that rhymes is super fun (and memorable). 


Or consider alliteration. It’s a little more grown-up version of rhyming in which words start with the same letter or sound. 


Now, read your taglines out loud. Which options roll off the tongue? Keep those and rework the others (or toss them).


Next, think about the tagline options from your ideal clients’ perspective. Which will resonate? Which will have them leaping in the air, shouting, ”I want that”? And by the way, don’t worry about appealing to everyone. Your ideal clients are the ones that count.


Once you have your final (or final few) tagline, ask for feedback from your team and your top clients. Is it clear? Does it capture what is special about your brand? How does it make them feel? 


And now you have a tagline!


Or maybe you’re stuck with too many mediocre options and just need someone to push you through to the finish line. Shoot me a note! We’ll schedule a one-hour consultation and work together to craft a tagline you and your clients will love. 


  • Terri Kaufman
    Posted at 10:15h, 10 May Reply

    This was very timely, Monika, thanks. Have a client who thinks they need a tag line, but after reading this I can make a case for saying they don’t – their name says everything!

  • Greg Voornas
    Posted at 23:01h, 10 May Reply

    Another great reminder, and a lesson for all clients who might think a catchy tagline or slogan will solve their internal business issues. Nicely done.

Post A Comment

Skip to content