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Steps to Writing a Successful Tagline, or Slogan

Create the perfect shareable, can’t get out of your head, tagline!

A tagline enforces your persona, identity, and position.

A unique and creative tagline can help people remember you and drive a powerful impact on consumer buying trends. That is because it can catch someone’s attention in seconds and serve as a statement of your brand on its own. So, how does one go about coining that smart phrase that everyone knows? Awareness takes time and global recognition aside, you can craft a tagline that elicits brand recall within your industry and makes you stand out among the rest.  


First, let’s distinguish between a tagline and a slogan before we get to the elements of an effective one.


Tagline vs Slogan

Today, the distinction between tagline and slogan has blurred with the two terms used interchangeably.  Technically, however, they are different and a company may use both for different purposes.  Disneyland's tagline, for instance, is “The happiest place on earth” but Disney uses slogans as well such as “Where dreams come true”, “Where the magic begins,” and more. Used together, the tagline and slogan phrases are powerful brand differentiators.

Here is a snapshot of the attributes of each in order to understand better their distinction.

Tagline:  A tagline is related to the business entity and is not meant to change, though they sometimes evolve with the brand. It is often part of your company logo or graphics

Slogan:   A slogan is generally tied to a product and used in an advertising campaign. It is meant to change over time, although a good one may stay in place for decades.

Note that in this article I use the terms interchangeably as the writing principles for each are essentially the same.

Now, if you wish to get yourself familiar with the components of a successful tagline, or slogan if you prefer, here is what you need to bear in mind:  

5 Elements of a Great Tagline

These essential elements highlight your brand story and keep your product, or service, top of mind.

Benefit-driven. A benefit-driven tagline is one that highlights the key benefit of your brand to the consumer. Keep in mind that the average consumer doesn’t care if you are the oldest name in the biz or the top, they simply want to know the benefit they’ll get for choosing your brand. As they say, sell the benefit, not the feature!

Simple.  Simplicity, similar to most online advertising principles, is the key to catching the attention of the viewer easily without any distractions to the message conveyed. And by simple here we mean short, clear and easy to understand--not a boring lengthy line that confuses viewers.

Catchy. Of course, you have to aim for a simple and clear tagline but it has to be catchy as well if you wish to spark the attention of the readers and make them notice your brand’s presence.  Using common and catchy words in a more creative or playful way is the way to go.

Unique. If your tagline is similar to another competitor in your field or a big brand, it will certainly lose impact and this can definitely ruin the image of your brand, making you look like just another brand in an ocean of brands. Step up your game and make people view you as a more unique brand with a unique tagline.

Meaningful. Successful taglines also convey a direct or indirect meaning --think of it as the glue that unites your brand’s elements and supports your corporate identity. Meaningful taglines express in a line the purpose, vision or meaning behind your brand e.g “spreading love and connecting people together”. It doesn’t just tell who you are, it captures the essence of your brand.

Examples of Great Taglines and Slogans

Some brands have managed to achieve worldwide fame thanks to a creative tagline and slogan, among other major brand elements. And the biggest reason behind their tagline success is attributed to following most of the above key elements of creativity, simplicity, and meaningfulness.  Here are some great examples:

Bounty: "The Quicker Picker Upper". Bounty has played it smart here and used a tagline that is benefit-driven and catchy.  They have also managed to differentiate themselves from the competition,  "The quicker picker upper”  makes consumers think of it as better for spills than other leading brands.  Easy, simple and catchy. All in four words! Kudos for the catchy rhyme!

Bounty Tagline

Lay's: "Betcha Can't Eat Just One." Lay’s is perhaps the No.1 brand in chips worldwide and their slogan certainly adds to their success. Their slogan is incredibly simple as it elicits feelings of eating for pleasure, a response also known as “hedonic hyperphagia”.  Thanks to this slogan and celebrity-endorsed commercials, the sales of the chips became international and sales skyrocketed.

Lay's slogan

M&Ms: The Milk Chocolate Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand”. An iconic slogan that has managed to appeal to kids and grown-ups alike due to its catchiness, practicality, and playfulness. This chocolate snack calls out its benefit, “melt in your mouth” instead of leaving that gooey mess in your hand and it’s certainly a valid reason to give it a try.

M&M's slogan

Mastercard: “There are some things money can’t buy.  For everything else, there is Mastercard.” This priceless and highly effective tagline appeals to the consumer who values experiences. Even though using two taglines together is not the norm, Mastercard has managed to fuse the two successfully by being sentimental and evoking the emotion of the consumers. It has also cleverly introduced its brand name in the slogan without sounding repetitive. The briliance of this slogan is that there is an inference that the product actually can make important (priceless) moments happen is masterful,

Mastercard slogan

Geico’s ”15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” One of my favorites, this tagline tells you exactly what the company does and how it delivers value to the consumers. It’s precise, clear, and benefit-oriented at the same time. It is a textbook example to "work backward from" as we outline steps for you to create a meaningful phrase for your company.  

Geico Slogan

Steps to Writing a Successful Tagline

Taglines and slogans are short, simple statements, but that does not make them easy to write. However, the following steps will get you on the right track when crafting one for maximum impact of your brand and corporate identity.

1. Define Your Brand Identity

If you’re looking for an on-brand tagline that will stick, you should start with your brand identity.  If you haven’t created a “Brand Identity Guideline” yet, you should develop one.  

Think of your tagline as a brand bite.  It is a company headline that summarizes an aspect of your offering.  As such, it ties back to your brand identity.   Craft your value proposition, business philosophy, the key attributes of your offering, and your brand persona. It is the foundation for all of your brand deliverables.

Your slogan supports your brand identity and promotes a product or solution, often in conjunction with an advertising campaign. So, if you are writing one, start with your brand identity and the product brief.

2. State Your What, Who, Why

Jot down what your company offers and how you can provide value. Remember that when you founded your company, there may have been a hole in the market that you identified and a unique value proposition that you would deliver.   Ask yourself the following questions in brief to form your offering:

  • What do you provide?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Why do consumers use it?

Answer each question, keeping it brief.

3. Identify A Differentiator

What is it about your company that makes your product or service stand out? Do you save people money? What about time? How much time? Get specific. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • What is your point of differentiation?
  • How do you help people?
  • What qualities or aspects of your offering are unique?
  • Why people should choose you?

Sometimes, it's the smallest thing, even an attitude, that sets you apart. See what you come up with.

4. Summarize

This step involves reducing your answers down to one sentence. It should be brief and simple but at the same time clear and relevant to who you are specifically.

Think about the Lay's example "Betcha can't just eat one". A summary could be as follows: Lay's makes potato chips so tasty that people can't stop eating them.

5. Apply Creativity

See if you can find creative ways to phrase your statement.

Geico could have conveyed a benefit with a generic phrase like "save time and money on your car insurance". But that is not memorable or unique. Instead, Geico packs meaning in a short catchy phrase that sticks in your head.  The phrase“15 minutes” is more meaningful than the word “fast” and repeating the number by tying it to a potential 15% savings makes it memorable.

Summary

Taglines and slogans are powerful brand-related statements. The benefit to using them is that they can increase the memorability of your brand, suggest a benefit, evoke emotion, and create differentiation.

Start where you are and keep in mind that what is effective for a large, “Fortune 500” company may not be right for your small-to-medium business.  Big companies often use vague, aspirational taglines backed multi-million dollar advertising budgets and an established market presence.  

You can always edit your tagline as your brand evolves, to reflect your growth as a brand and stay relevant at the same time.

The ingredient is simple, but word-smithing is not easy. If you go through the above process but still fail to come up with a memorable and effective slogan, perhaps it’s time to hire an expert marketer or company to help you out.   Sometimes, leaving the process to professionals that really know their business is much more efficient than struggling to put something together on your own! The quality of your copywriting is critical to how your brand is positioned, so your investment in the process is as important as design. Good luck out there!

We'd love to hear your success stories.

Written By Michelle Hansen