The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
I am a big believer in taglines. They are an effective way to communicate the brand’s “unique value proposition” powerfully, succinctly and memorably. It is very difficult to create the perfect tagline, however, because of all of the objectives that it must accomplish:
- It communicates the brand’s “unique value proposition”
- In an economy of words
- It is believable for the brand
- Competitive brands are not saying and cannot say the same thing
- It is memorable – it must stick in people’s minds
- It can’t be trite
- It needs to do more than just refer to the product category
- It should not promise a “cost of entry” benefit for the category
- Ideally, it is entertaining or emotionally appealing
Common tagline mistakes:
- Claiming something that is overused or trite
- We are the [quality/service/innovation] leader
- Excellence in all that we do
- You can count on us
- We care about people
- Saying something that sounds good (is “catchy”) but that does not differentiate the brand in a meaningful way
- Communicating what product category the brand is in…period.
- Claiming a benefit that all brands in the category must deliver (a “cost of entry” benefit)
- Saying something that many or all brands in your brand’s category could also say
- Saying something that is so broad that it is meaningless
- Saying something that is too complicated or confusing
- Using too many words
Taglines must be developed based on a well thought through “unique value proposition” informed by customer insight. Only then should one begin the process of generating hundreds, if not thousands, of tagline options, which will be evaluated against the above mentioned criteria to filter out all but the most powerful options.
Over my 30+ years as a marketer, I have encountered hundreds of tagline examples, most of them quite bad. Luckily, I forgot most all of the bad ones.
Here are a few examples of ineffective taglines (current and historical):
Ames Rubber Excellence through total quality.
BF Goodrich Creating value through excellence in innovation, quality and people
Blockbuster No more late fees. The start of more.
Chicago We’re Glad You’re Here!
Delta Airlines We get you there.
Denny’s A good place to sit and eat.
Exxon We’re Exxon.
Lehman Brothers Where vision gets built.
Mobile We want you to live.
O’Douls What beer drinkers drink when they’re not drinking beer.
Rochester, New York I'd Rather Be in Rochester – It's Got It
Here are a few examples of effective taglines (current and historical):
Alka-Seltzer I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.
American Express Don’t leave home without it.
Apple Computer Think Different.
Avis We try harder.
BMW The ultimate driving machine.
California Milk Processing Board Got milk?
DeBeers A diamond is forever.
Foodlink Abundance Shared
IMAX Think big.
Kentucky Fried Chicken Finger-lickin’ good!
Lay’s Potato Chips Betcha can’t eat just one.
National Pork Board Pork. The other white meat.
Timex Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
United Negro College Fund A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
VISA It’s everywhere you want to be.
FootJoy (FJ) The Mark Of A Player.*
*Disclaimer, The Blake Project developed this
What taglines do you consider effective? Ineffective?
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