Does your brand need a tagline?

Great taglines are iconic, and immediately call the brand and its associations to mind. “Think Different” isn’t just a mindset; it’s Apple. The phrase “Just Do It” evokes a swoosh even as it urges someone to complete a task. Taglines at their best are linguistic logos that are memorable and pithy and that support the positioning of the brand. They remind you of the brand and what it stands for. But does every brand need a tagline? Even the shortest tagline takes up valuable real estate in today’s mobile world. Many brands are moving away from taglines as they ask: is the space and attention they take up worth it?


The answer is that it depends: a great tagline is a brand trigger that communicates a short, sweet, single thought and can stand the test of time. A bad tagline is quickly forgotten and may even detract from the memorability of your brand. At their worst, a tagline can feel like a string of generic, undifferentiated throw-away words that do nothing for (or maybe even harm) your brand.


The overabundance of branded content, especially in the digital space, means that brands have to be strategic about how they capture attention. A great tagline can still reinforce the brand, serving as a key marketing tool. But with many brands switching to hashtags as a way to trend online, particularly for less permanent, more campaign-focused marketing, it is important to carefully consider the value a tagline will bring to your brand, and whether a tagline, or closely-related alternatives such as slogans or by-lines, will best achieve your brand goals.


A valuable tagline will be easy to remember, with a benefit that clearly connects to the brand. The message should be clear, creative and easy to reproduce, evoking positive emotion to make it likable. A tagline can serve as a differentiator but, unlike slogans, doesn’t always reinforce points of differentiation. Slogans, like Mastercard’s classic “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard” or M&M’s promise to “melt in your mouth, not in your hands” are longer and contain more motivation for purchasing the brand, and offer more scope for positioning and strategy about the company’s values and product claims.


Descriptors or by-lines give key factual information about the product or service that may not be clear from the name. So if your brand awareness is low and it’s not clear what the business does, especially in the B2B context, then a descriptor (think something like “A Construction Management Company”) could be helpful. If your name is self-explanatory or well-known, a tagline may well be a better option than a descriptor in order to explain who you are and why people should care rather than simply repeat what you do.

Bailey Brand consulting taglines
Bailey Brand consulting taglines

With increasing competition for attention in the mobile space, it is important to consider what value a tagline will add. Hashtags and headlines are increasingly replacing taglines for campaigns as brands seek to stand out online. However, a great tagline will immediately evoke your brand across channels and platforms in a way that will be remembered long-term. Crafting a great tagline takes time and energy, but could well be worth the investment if it is done right.


As you consider your marketing strategy going forward, how will you consider the value of a great tagline for your brand?


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