To Tagline or not to Tagline

A well-crafted tagline can capture the heart of your brand and become the most repeated and memorable part of your story. But distilling your entire business down to just a few words can feel daunting—it’s a lot to pack in. Below, we answer how a tagline can help broadcast your brand positioning to the world and breakdown the tagline development process.

Let’s start from square one—what exactly is a tagline?

A tagline is a short, memorable phrase that captures the essence and promise of a brand. It helps your customers feel more connected to your brand by showcasing your personality and what you stand for. Taglines can also help distinguish you from your competition.

A tagline can take many forms—it can be a call to action, a question that gets your audience thinking, a promise to your customers or something else entirely. Yes, there are best practices to keep in mind while exploring tagline options, but we don’t like to impose too many rules on the process.

Before even beginning the tagline exploration process, it’s a good idea to set a goal for the single most important thing you want your tagline to accomplish. Do you want to rally your community, or motivate your employees? Do you want to make people smile, or come across as an expert?  

How do you know if you actually need a tagline?

Taglines help people understand more about you in just a few words. They can be used across multiple platforms and touch-points—from business cards to banner ads to the homepage of your website. They’re an efficient message that your employees can lean on when chatting with your community on almost any channel. They can also arm your customers with a punchy, memorable phrase to repeat when they’re talking about you—turning them into valuable brand advocates.

Let’s look at some brands who really nailed their taglines to get a sense of all the different forms a tagline can take, and what purpose they can serve as part of your core branding.

FedEx

When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. 

This tagline accomplishes two things. First, it makes a strong brand promise: next day delivery. It also shows their lighthearted personality. By communicating their brand promise with bold certainty, while also adding some creative phrasing, FedEx creates a completely ownable statement that forges an immediate level of trust with their customers.

The Toronto Raptors

We the North

The brilliance of this tagline is that it’s an emotional rally cry for all Canadians to stand behind their one and only team—the Raptors. It makes people feel part of something bigger than themselves. By using “we” in the tagline, it’s calling every Canuck to unite in support of the Raptors, while differentiating the one Canadian team from every other American team. It hones in on an emotional insight: people are very proud to be Canadian. Fans proudly wear this message on hats and hoodies and display it on their walls and notebooks with stickers and posters—spreading this message and making it larger than life.

Singapore Airlines

The Lengths We Go To  

Boy do we ever love a double entendre. This tagline tells you that Singapore Airlines goes above and beyond, and it does it in a clever way, making it memorable and ownable. This tagline delivers a powerful brand promise that tells customers why they should choose this airline over all the other options out there.

The Elements of Powerful Taglines

There is no right or wrong way to write a tagline, but there are some best practices to consider when you’re trying to decide between a few options.

1. Is it short and simple?

Keeping your tagline short and simple ensures people will digest your message without getting hung up or confused. Can they drive by your billboard or bus ad or scroll through Instagram and get what you’re all about in a glance? Good.

2. Is it clear?

We always explore options that paint a clear picture of what you do. If your name doesn’t tell customers what you do you right away, you may want to consider a tagline that overtly states the product or service you offer. For example, if your company name doesn’t have a descriptive qualifier like “consulting” or “real estate” or “home goods,” you may want to include a keyword in your tagline that clearly articulates what you do. It's true that the best taglines are simple and memorable, but they’re also functional. A tagline can be used to provide clarity so potential customers know if you’re relevant for their needs.

3. Is it memorable?

A clever one liner that makes people smile, or an emotional message that makes people feel something, is going to stick with them. If you can stop someone in their tracks with a play on words or a sassy pun, your tagline might be more easily ownable and unique to your brand. However, clever isn’t always the best course of action for every brand. If you’re not a playful brand, sometimes straight-forward is the way to go. If you’re unsure what’s right for your brand, test a potential tagline with key audience groups to see what lands.

4. Does it show our personality?

Your tagline is often your first touchpoint with potential customers—it’s an opportunity to show your personality right out of the gate. Are you kooky? Serious? Inventive? Once you figure out your voice, you’ll be able to answer this question. For example, a brand selling dog treats is going to have a very different personality and messaging than a cancer research lab. It’s key to identify your brand personality and voice before developing your tagline.

 

Although just a few words, writing a tagline is an in-depth process. Before you start thinking about summing up your whole business in a short phrase, we recommend nailing down your brand positioning and letting your story inform and guide the tagline development process. Wine helps too.

 

Ready to capture your brand in a short, punchy, memorable phrase? Let’s chat.


Lindsay Seguin