Taglines are like logos. Just about every brand has one. And consumers tend to remember only the very best ones.
Do you recognize these?
“How well do you share?”
“We Want You to Live.”
Those taglines were used by Ricoh, Bank of America, Volvo, and Mobil.
And they are bad.
They don’t say anything. They don’t relate to the brand’s story. And they aren’t aspirational. Like most taglines, they seem to be an after thought or a too-simple restatement of the brand strategy.
I imagine that the creative team working on the Ricoh tagline had a brief that talked a lot about how Ricoh makes document sharing easy. Hence the tagline. It addresses the needs of the brief, but doesn’t seem to mean much to the consumer.
So how do you make sure the tagline you use is great? Do one of these four things:
1. Great taglines tell a story. (If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you knew this was coming.)
My favorite tagline of all time was used by Avis: We Try Harder. It echoed the story told by the advertising that since Avis wasn’t the largest car rental agency, they had to work harder to earn your business. So the cars were cleaner. The gas tank was full. The attendant was nicer. They couldn’t afford not to do the right thing. And the tagline echoes that story. Brilliant.
Other great taglines that tell a story: American Express: Don’t Leave Home without It. Apple: Think Different. Timex: Takes a Lickin’, and Keeps on Tickin’. GE: We Bring Good Things to Life.
2. Great taglines are aspirational.
The most famous tagline of all is probably Nike’s Just Do It. It’s easy for the consumer to relate to this idea—no matter what “it” is. Ever wondered if you can run a marathon? Nike gives you permission to Just Do It.
Other great taglines that are aspirational: The few, The Proud, The Marines. Virginia Slims: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. U.S. Army: Be All You Can Be.
3. Great taglines emphasize a point of difference.
The best example of this kind of tagline probably belongs to M&M’s: They Melt in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands. Unlike other chocolate treats, M&M’s has a candy shell so they didn’t melt quickly and make a mess when poured into warm hands. No other chocolate candy could make that claim. It is unique to one brand.
Other great taglines that emphasize a point of difference: Papa John’s: Better Ingredients, Better Pizza. BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine. Miller Lite: Tastes Great, Less Filling. Bounty: The Quicker Picker-Upper.
4. Great taglines often emphasize the brand name.
If you grew up in the Seventies or Eighties, you probably remember the television commercials with the tagline “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” There were several versions including school children, business men at the airport, and this one:
Okay, so the execution is a little campy. But the tagline is memorable and repeats the company name. It’s almost impossible NOT to remember it.
Other great taglines that emphasize the brand name: Have a Coke and a Smile. See the USA in Your Chevrolet. You’re in Good Hands with Allstate.
And of course, if you can find an idea that does all four, you’ve got a truly great tagline.
Mastercard’s Priceless campaign and tagline is a good example of this.
- It re-iterates the story told in the advertising.
- It’s aspirational.
- It claims a point of difference.
- It emphasizes the brand name.
“There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else, there’s Mastercard.”