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Brandbuilding With Taglines

By Shira Linden
Expert Author
Article Date: 2006-09-28

When it comes to building your brand, you want to take advantage of every possible shortcut to help your target market know you…and remember you.

Taglines provide that path through the woods. A tagline consists of a few short words that communicate to your target market what your company does and how you're different from competitors. A good tagline should position your brand in your audience's mind and sum up its essence or benefit in a way that your audience can relate to. A great tagline uses memorable phrasing and creates a personality. Taglines are typically simple phrases that telegraph a message. They normally accompany company logos and are written to stand the test of time. Most taglines have a fairly long shelf life. Taglines can also help change the perception of a company.

Should you develop a tagline?

The simple answer is yes. All companies should consider using a tagline in their marketing materials and company advertising because taglines deliver the following benefits:

1. Clearly states what your company stands for.

2. Simplifies buying decisions because customers know who you are and what you offer.

3. Differentiates you from competition.

4. Raises brand awareness because taglines are relevant, remembered and often repeated.

5. Provides a shorthand version of your brand promise. How do you develop an effective tagline?

Your tagline should evolve from your branding strategy to ensure consistency in your overall brand message. According to Paul Quinn,, "Dancing the Tagline Tango," here are ten ideas you can use to help develop a tagline:

1. Ask a question.

Does she or doesn't she? - Clairol

2. Show your unique commitment.

We try harder - Avis

3. Explain product superiority.

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking - Timex

4. Evoke a benefit in a fresh way.

Let your fingers do the walking - Yellow Pages

5. Use an emotive call to action.

Reach out and touch someone - AT&T

6. Use a two-fold delivery with a twist.

Common sense. Uncommon results - David Ingram and Associates

7. Address a specific need.

They come in but they don't go out - Roach Motel

8. Be abstract but client-centered.

After all, it is your information - Authentex Software

9. Describe your product in a novel way.

The quicker picker upper - Bounty

10. Link company name to product benefit.

Solid as Sears - Kenmore

Five steps to a new tagline

1. Begin by thinking about what you want to communicate with your tagline. Write down your positioning statement or unique selling proposition. Your tag line should reinforce them.

Ask these questions:

• Who are your customers?

• What benefits do you offer your customers?

• What feelings do you want to evoke in your customers?

• What action are you trying to generate from your customers?

• How are you different from your competition?

Try to get one or more of these ideas across in the tag line.

2. Next, prepare to brainstorm.

Gather tag lines from other companies and brands. Look in other categories besides your own, from both large and small firms. You can find taglines anywhere there are advertisements, packaging, or logos. Look in cupboards, around desks, in magazines, on TV/radio commercials, in print advertisements, and on websites. Don't forget to look at your competitors' tag lines - and strive to be better and different.

Write the taglines on index cards or individual slips of paper. You will be mixing and matching them and pairing them with unrelated items as you brainstorm.

Pay attention to the words used, how they are put together, and which of the above questions they address. By doing this, you are more likely to come up with a unique angle for your own tag line.

You are looking at others' tag lines only to spark ideas. Do not plagiarize. Your objective is to come up with your own, original tag line.

3. Brainstorm taglines

Get a small group together if possible. You'd be amazed how much help you can get if you serve lunch. But the job can also be done solo. Set up a place with a lot of writing space - use dry erase boards, easels with big paper pads, note cards, etc.

Gather props that might stimulate your thinking. Rearrange your various props so you can look at them in different ways. Write down everything that comes to mind and all the new ideas each phrase sparks. Your ideas do not have to make sense. You want as many as possible.

4. Consolidate your list

After brainstorming, go through all of your ideas. Pull out those few you think have the best potential. Try to reduce longer ones to fewer words.

5. Choose the one best tagline

You should be left with a short list of possibilities. To pick the single best tag line, poll others. If you have some funds budgeted, work with a market research firm to test the taglines with your customers.

You can also conduct informal research. offers a free trial. If you have contact with customers, ask them what they think. Give them an incentive to help, such as a discount or small freebie. Some marketers find making the final selection the most difficult step. Listen to your gut, along with outside opinions you trust, then…

Evaluate your tagline against these 8 criteria

Before you unveil your new tagline, make sure it's as effective as possible by asking:

1. Is your tagline consistent with your brand name and brand positioning?

2. Will your target audience understand the language you've used?

3. Are you communicating one simple idea?

4. Will your tagline stand out in advertising and corporate communications?

5. Have you tried out the tagline with clients and prospects?

6. Does your tagline differentiate your firm from the competition?

7. Have you removed all acronyms and jargon?

8. Are you using specifics rather than vague words or generalizations?

Lastly, check if your tagline communicates your brand promise to your prospects and customers. And helps them choose YOU in a cluttered marketplace.

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About the Author:
Interested in knowing more? Visit and see the Tip Sheet, "13 Tactics to Boost your Brand," under the Tips section.

Shira Linden is a freelance copywriter and consultant. For copy that gets results or a copy critique, contact Shira at 203 371-0654, via email at or via her website


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Brandbuilding with Taglines