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Annalese Sharrock Strategic Director
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“Just Do It”, “I’m Lovin’ It”, “Think Different”, “”Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” Great company tag lines or slogans are almost as famous as their brands. So does every brand need a great tag line? And how do we go about writing one?
A tag line is a short sentence or group of words that communicates the ethos of a company in a way that meaningfully engages its audience.
It helps describe the service/product to your customers, provides direction or vision for you and your team, and it encapsulates your company’s marketing strategy. For such a small sentence (typically 2 to 6 words) it does a lot of work.
Typically, a well-known brand can have a more obscure or cryptic tag line e.g. “Think Different” could apply to many industries, but everyone knows what Apple offers. Whereas a lesser known brand might need to spell out their company offering in their tag line e.g. First Solar “Lowering the cost of solar electricity” or Strategy Collective, as a multi-disciplinary consulting firm, have spelt out our services “People. Brand. Accounting.” We also use another tag line “Empower Your Business” because this speaks more to our mission and empathises with the goals of our clients.
Not every company needs a tag line. Sometimes your brand name will be strong enough to carry itself because it is either so well known or it is self-explanatory e.g. “Taranaki Landscape Supplies”.
So, Nike doesn’t really need a tag line. Everyone knows the swoosh and recognises the brand. However, their slogan helps to flesh out further their company ethos. “Just Do It” says to Nike customers that they (both the company and their customers) are ambitious, adventurous, inclusive, cutting edge, creative, built for action. As a fitness brand, Nike’s tag line fits perfectly and can be used in marketing material as an alternative to having the brand name.
If your brand name is both obscure (i.e. not directly connected to your service offering) and not already well-known, then a tag line would be a big help to position your brand in customer’s mind, carving out that all-important niche in your market.
A good tag line should encapsulate your entire business into just a handful of words. This is a tricky writing project—much trickier than spurting out a paragraph explanation of your business offering. But start with that paragraph. Jot down all that you do, how you do it, what makes you unique and the benefits your customers receive.
Your next step is to edit this paragraph down. You might do this by pulling out a handful of keywords or simply attempt to cull the 10 sentences or so down to 3-4 sentences.
Cull this down again.
Then do another cull and play around with changing out words for synonyms and mixing with the sentence structure.
It’s okay to have a one-word tag line (e.g. Danaher’s “Invent” ) and it’s also okay to go a little longer (e.g. Master Card’s “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard”).
Next, try it on your marketing collateral. Does it work on the side of your company car? How about on an image for your company Facebook cover photo? Does it sit well directly under your logo on your website? Does it read okay on the back of business cards? Test these different uses of the tag line on friends, family, staff and customers (if appropriate).
Finally, be ruthless. Does it boost your marketing efforts or not? Does it connect with your audience and effectively pull them towards becoming a customer? If not, start again or drop the idea totally.
So to summarise:
Remember, there are great companies out there with no tag lines. Some companies have many tag lines that they cycle through depending on the advertising campaign or situation. And some companies (like Nike or McDonald’s) have established tag lines that bring incredible added value to their brand. So, there are no set rules, but it certainly can help.
And if you get stuck, give us a call (06 759 7044) or email. Our creative team have named and written tag lines and copy for dozens of successful businesses and can guide you through the above process step-by-step.