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Taglines: How to Craft the Message That Engages

by | Jan 15, 2014 | Digital Marketing

Lately, we at DirectiveGroup have been working with several companies that are looking for new or updated taglines. And, even we are considering a change to our long-lived tagline, “we mean more business.” Taglines can serve many different purposes, from providing a clarifying and pithy statement of purpose or a slogan, to communicating a company’s guiding principle or belief. What they have in common, though, is that they are intended to influence buying behavior by connecting on an emotional level.

What surprises most people is that taglines can be changed over time. Many think that taglines (and even logos, for that matter) are written in stone, never to be changed once developed. The truth is that taglines can and should change… and they should be changed more frequently than should logos. The reason is that it is imperative they remain fresh in a marketplace that is constantly changing.

Even though taglines are short, they are not necessarily easy to develop. There should be some level of soul-searching, and most certainly, they should be rooted to your strategy, and even to your company’s mission and vision. In the end, a tagline must communicate who you are, reflect your brand personality, and must differentiate you sufficiently from your competitors. And, as I said, it must also connect on an emotional level, so your customers and prospective customers ‘get it’ in the gut.

When you set about creating a tagline, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • It should be very brief, very concise and not arbitrary.
  • It should speak to how you are different from competitive options.
  • It should reflect your general brand tone or personality.
  • It should evoke an emotion (and the one you want to evoke, of course!)
  • It should be able to be protected, from an intellectual property standpoint.

What is fun is to consider different types of taglines, and maybe to brainstorm a few from each category. These are the main types of taglines you generally see:

  • Specific. These taglines describe the business or the business category. When your company name does not indicate what you do, these are frequently a good option. The issue is often how to be specific at the same time you are generating emotional appeal.

Example: Volkswagen – Drivers Wanted

  • Provocative. Often posed as a question, these types of taglines cause someone to think or to consider. The emotional appeal is in the question or provocative statement itself, and can cause a delightful jolt of connection when the reader ‘gets it.’

Example: Dairy Council – Got Milk?

  • Imperative. My favorite. In fact, many times, these have an incredible emotional appeal, and they evoke a strongly motivational or strongly committed feeling. Unfortunately, making such a strong statement may not work for all brands and in all situations.

Example: Nike – Just Do It

  • Descriptive. These taglines describe your service, brand promise, or your vision. They can been seen as furthering the customer’s understanding of what you are all about, and what you intend to do for them.

Example: Target – Expect More. Pay Less.

  • Superlative. Often used by luxury brands, the goal of this type of tagline is to position the company as the best in class.

Example: BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine

These simple guidelines and category examples should set you well on your way toward the development of a new tagline. Now… <drumroll> …let the work begin! Best of luck in the development of your new tagline. Remember, DirectiveGroup can help you in the process, so if you get stuck, be sure to give us a call @ 813.341.3800.


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