A tagline or slogan is like a written logo. Taste the rainbow. Beanz Meanz Heinz. Never knowingly undersold.
It’s a bit of shorthand for your brand that tells the world the character of your business. Your essence, your promise, your special sauce.
It shouldn’t be too literal and it must invoke a feeling. The most successful brands of all time have proved that it’s creativity that makes a tagline work.
When you need a tagline
Let me be clear: no one NEEDS a tagline. It’s like a logomark: it’s an optional accessory for your brand.
However, a tagline is handy in a few cases.
Your brand name is kinda… bland
That still doesn’t make it a must but if you’re working with an existing company name that doesn’t have a lot of life, a tagline could help inject a little something into the brand.
However: remember that a strapline isn’t supposed to be literal, so don’t just add exposition to your name. No ‘Heating solutions for Southeast England’, please. That’s not a tagline.
You do TV or radio advertising
Phrases, particularly catchy phrases accompanied by a good jingle, can be more memorable than the brand name itself.
With repetition, a good strapline can help people remember your brand – or even enter popular culture. Brand phrases like, ‘Because you’re worth it’ (L’Oreal) and ‘A diamond is forever’ (De Beers) are part of our language.
You use packaging
Branding on packaging is just good sense. If you fulfil physical orders, investing in branded packaging is a good step if you’re levelling up.
Think about it: the moment of unboxing is so important in a customer’s experience that there are children earning millions a year just unwrapping stuff on Youtube.
Your logo and a tagline will get noticed on packaging and you’ve got space to show off.
How to construct your brand tagline
Set your guidelines
Think about some of the most famous taglines of all time.
Just do it. I’m lovin’ it. Every little helps.
What do they have in common? Uh huh. They’re short.
You can’t tell your entire story in a tagline anymore than you can in a logo. It’s not to explain what you do, as such; your tagline provides a flavour of your brand.
So, start yourself off with a three-word limit.
Write down how your tagline should feel
What feeling are you trying to get across with your tagline that your logo alone doesn’t portray? Write down all the words that feel like your brand (they don’t have to be adjectives) – this is your brand’s semantic field.
Example semantic fields:
- Traditional, dependable, reputation, money
- Bubbly, bright, laugh, sunshine, friendly
- Sleek, luxury, sexy, power
Once you’ve got your semantic field, you know what you’re trying to convey with your tagline.
Check in with your target audience
It’s got to resonate with the people you’re trying to reach. Who are they? Why do they need you?
Different people need different things from branding, so we can’t just go straight for cool or whacky if that’s not what your audience is going to like.
Start writing options for your tagline
So, we’ve got three words in which to get across our semantic field. Remember: it doesn’t have to be descriptive. The best slogans in the world don’t describe what the companies do at all; they sum up an adjacent feeling.
Try not to fall into the trap of doing something trendy. A tagline is, of course, replaceable – but don’t burden yourself with something that’s lost its shine within months.
A tagline trend to avoid:
This is not just because I’m a copywriter by trade – but can we stop with the poor grammar?
- ‘Be more’ + noun. ‘Be more dog’ was great, but this construction is tired now.
- ‘Find your’ + adjective. Ugh. After the first ‘Find your happy’, it’s over and done, OK?
Apple famously started the bad grammar trend with ‘Think different’ in 1997. And it was great. But now let’s do something new.
Example tagline build:
My business is a luxury tights brand – let’s call us ‘Saint-Pierre’ – and my semantic field is sleek, luxury, sexy, power. My customers are affluent and prepared to pay for that extra layer of decadence.
Three words (ish). Let’s go.
- Sex on legs
- You’re it
- Walk all over them
- Luxury up to here
- Stairway to heaven
- The most
- You’re the most
- Do the most
Ah-ha! A theme emerges.
Try your name and your taglines together
Once you have a long list of potentially silly taglines, start trying them with your brand name. See how each one looks next to your logo.
Here’s why I like this one: it says these tights are for people who want everything and don’t care how much it costs.
It’s also tapping into a phrase already in the culture, ‘doing the most’, and it’s an instruction. It feels commanding and fabulous.
You’re doing the most, and these tights ARE the most. (The most money…)
If you find yourself struggling, I have a little trick for you. Shopify’s slogan generator – not joking! Put in a word you want your tagline to include and it’ll give you a load of one-liners to get some inspiration.
Have fun with your taglines
Bear in mind that agencies charge a lot, a LOT of money to write taglines for brands. You will come up with many stinkers, and that’s OK. If you can have fun with it, you’re more likely to let go and be creative.
That creativity is where you’ll find the spark for your tagline.