Discovering A Tagline
Developing taglines can be difficult and the process of creating them is both an art and a science. Taglines should be succinct and express brand value or align with your company’s mission. To find the right tagline for your business you must discover your brand’s true essence and think about what your company’s value proposition.
Your tagline should avoid obvious or trite words like “solutions”, “customer-driven”, or “friendly”. Try to use words that are unique to your industry and that express a deeper meaning or connection with your audience. Taglines are typically short, four words or less, and this can be challenging. Taglines do not have to be complex but they should be true and easily explained to your customers through examples.
Two Types of Taglines
In general there are two types of taglines. One type of tagline uses what we call a “parallel message”. Nike is a company that uses a parallel message. Their taglines typically imply that they support athletes in general rather than directly saying “We have great shoes”. Using parallel messages allows them create interesting taglines and commercials that connect with athletes. The slogan “Just Do It” is a great example of a parallel message.
The other type of tagline seeks to find the truth about the product or service offering. In this approach you discover what is true AND unique about your product and “blow up the perception” and understanding of that truth. A good example of this style comes from the well-known “Got Milk?” commercials. In these campaigns they realized that one thing true and unique about the product was that people only think about milk when the don’t have it. Using that idea they were able to build campaigns that exaggerate this truth in an entertaining way.
Supporting Your Tagline
A common mistake is to put your tagline on your website and not integrate it into your website’s content. For many companies their tagline is this “other thing” below their logo and they don’t really know what to do with it. If you really believe in your tagline you should be able to create content and ad copy that supports its meaning.
A classic example comes from Allstate Insurance and their famous tagline “You’re in Good Hands”. They don’t just make the claim that “You’re in Good Hands”, they explain what it means through copy, ad campaigns, and examples. They express their tagline in different ways and explain what it means to their customers. This causes customers to believe the tagline and understand their company’s cores values.
Generating Ad Campaigns from Your Tagline
If you have a meaningful tagline you can generate content and ad copy by listing out ways in which your company adheres to it. If your tagline is direct you can also generate content, image ads, text ads, and video ads that explain your core offering in different ways. As you deliver ad campaigns your target market will begin to believe your mission.
All companies should have a tagline that is honest and one they can support through content and real-life examples. Having a meaningful tagline will help you shape the perception of your company and clarify your mission.
Ad campaigns can use your tagline along with supporting videos and ads to demonstrate how you deliver on your company’s core message and mission. Your tagline can also help your company and marketing agency keep a consistent message across all your marketing channels.
Below is a checklist to help you create and use your tagline:
- Define your company goals
- Study your Competition
- Define your target audience
- Get rid of obvious words
- Seek ideas that are true about your company
- Shorten the number of words (2-4 if possible)
- Check USPTO.gov and do a trademark search before using your tagline
- Consider trademarking your tagline using a service like legalzoom.com
Shopify has a slogan generator that allows you to put in a single word and it generates slogans for you. You can then combine ideas from their tool to create a slogan for your business.
Sean periodically teaches as an adjunct professor on the topic of search engines and search marketing at MSU and is a member of their computer science advisory board. He completed coursework for his PhD in machine learning at MSU. He was the founder and publisher of SEMJ.org. Sean holds four engineering patents, has a B.S. in physics from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a master’s in electrical engineering from Washington State University. As president and director at metric ppc, Inc. he focuses on search marketing, internet research, and consults for large companies.