Effective Taglines

Tag, You’re It: The Power of an Effective Tagline

A compelling tagline is an essential element in establishing brand identity. Especially successful taglines (formerly known in the advertising trade as slogans) take on a life of their own and become part of popular culture. Remember Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” The tagline swept the nation in 1984, resulting in record sales for the hamburger chain.

An effective tagline addresses either the target market or the brand itself. A prime example of the former is Nike’s “Just do it.” Although it says nothing about athletic shoes or sports, this deceptively simple phrase works because of its inclusive nature. The majority of Nike’s consumers are not athletes (it would be a very limited market if that were the case), yet the tagline speaks directly to the “can-do” spirit that resides within us all.

As for the latter, Coca-Cola’s classic “It’s the real thing” tagline resonated because it reinforced the brand’s well-established identity while implying that competing cola brands were mere wannabes.

In choosing which approach is more effective for your brand, start at the beginning by making the tagline integral to the overall branding campaign. The focus of the campaign informs that of the tagline, which in turn serves as the distilled essence of the brand identity.

The worst case scenario is when a tagline is treated as an afterthought tacked on because someone suggested that your print ad needed a “catchy” phrase. Under such a circumstance, the resulting tagline risks being cheesy at best and a cliché at worst – and pulls down your brand image right along with it.

To paraphrase another well-known successful example, “with so much riding on your tagline, shouldn’t you make sure you have the best one possible?”