Jess’ How To…Create an Impactful Tagline


Image courtesy of mortsan’s photostrea

 Got Milk?

 Just Do It.

 Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.

 What Happens Here Stays Here.

 Have It Your Way.

 Distilled in hell.

 We’re Chicken.

 No more late fees. The start of more.

 A good place to sit and eat.

 Ask why.

Chances are, you could identify the first five taglines and the company they are tied to. What about the last five? How’d you do? In case you don’t know all of these taglines and the associated businesses, here is your cheat sheet:

 Got Milk?- California Milk Processor Board

 Just Do It. – Nike

 Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands. – M & Ms

 What Happens Here Stays Here. – Las Vegas

 Have It Your Way. – Burger King

 Distilled in hell. – Bacardi Spice

 We’re Chicken. – Tyson

 No more late fees. The start of more. – Blockbuster

 A good place to sit and eat. – Denny’s

 Ask why. – Enron

What makes a tagline stick out and what makes a tagline fail? Why do you remember some and not others? It’s important to consider the very distant future when creating your tagline. You want something to stick in the minds of your audience long after their product or service has lived it’s life. Taglines should be bold and make a promise to your consumers. There are many considerations you must make when creating your very own tagline.

First, it has to make SOMEBODY think. That somebody can be your target audience or your employees. Think about Nike’s tagline: Just Do It. That speaks to their audience. It conveys an urgent need to do IT. It tells their audience to stop sitting on the couch and get moving. There is no time for excuses or twiddling your thumbs when Nike has anything to say about it—they want you to do it and they want you to do it now. On the flipside of this, think about the old FedEx tagline: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” This speaks not only to their audience but to the employee who has to ultimately fulfill this bold promise. Along with a tagline making somebody think, it needs to be daunting (hence the boldness). BMW tells us that they ARE the ultimate driving machine. What if they said, “a great car to drive”? Think about the different emotions it makes bubble up inside of you.

The next consideration you must make is whether or not your tagline speaks specifically to your product or service. There are many taglines out there that are clever, cute and catchy but do you remember the product or service they are representing? Think about Denny’s. “A good place to sit and eat.” Hopefully, being that it is a restaurant, they are a good place to sit and eat. What about that tagline jumps out and makes you want to eat Denny’s right away? Likely nothing. Cute and catchy taglines are always a hit but they need to elicit the memory of the product or service, not just the phrase. People want to know what THEY get out of it—not what you have. Telling them that you have terrific customer service and quality products is not what they want to hear.

The third point to remember when creating a tagline is that it needs to tell a story. Stories answer our questions, it tells us what we can expect from you, and they are much easier to remember. When Timex told us that their watches “take a licking and keep on ticking” it’s easy for consumers to realize that these watches are durable and something that will last a long time.

Finally, a successful long lasting tagline will speak to the uniqueness of your product or service. It helps clearly define who you are and what you sell in addition to all of the points above. The Marines made it as clear as possible with their “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” You know, upon hearing this tagline, that it’s an exclusive group, it’s a group that many would be proud to be a part of it but that only a few have the opportunity to join.

Creating a bold tagline can be a scary task for many marketers. There are so many opportunities for you to fail on the delivery of your tagline. That’s just a part of business. Things happen. This is where you have the opportunity to handle the situation appropriately and remedy it for your customer. Taglines are not an absolute. How you handle the failures is how you will become a success.

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