A tagline is to your brand identity what a smile is to your face.
You can touch someone with a sincere smile; fool him with a fake one; turn her away with a mean one, and make someone want to smile along with you if you do it just right.
Which of the above are you trying to achieve with the tagline you’re inventing?
If you want a tagline that touches customers and makes them want to “smile along with you” then the first thing you must be is honest … with yourself.
Truthfully define what you can deliver, otherwise your tagline risks making claims you cannot meet.
Next, put on paper what the customer needs to understand, then research how that aligns with what the target market actually wants.
After that, begin brainstorming. Remember, good marketing develops out of many concepts being refined down to one or two exceptional ideas; as opposed to coming up with one idea — that may be good, bad or ugly — and trying to force it to be brilliant.
So when you have whittled down your tagline options to a few that seem to have salt, explore how it can move. See if it can work in multi-faceted ways.
Is it believable? Can it shift through varying themes, campaigns? Match it with the logo. Sound it out. Is it public relations and marketing-friendly? Will it stand the test of time?
Consider RAMCO gas: “Under Every Good Pot.” It’s been around for decades. That’s a working tagline.
Some taglines try to convey what kind of experience will be had. Other taglines focus more on whipping up customer emotion.
Then there is the major underlining factor of “ENERGY.”
With a few words you can convey something is going to happen (“Don’t leave home without it”), or something is happening right now (“Finger-lickin’ good!”).
A great tagline combines elements of experience, emotion and energy, to varying degrees that match its product, service or company.
A tagline can be direct, roundabout, grand, simple, strong, soft and more besides.
So when you set out to create, or change, your tagline, by all means use guidelines like the ones above.
However, don’t be confined to hard and fast rules that say things like: an effective tagline can’t be one word; a catchy tagline can’t be longer that five words; a tagline has to be able to stand alone.
A tagline is a thing of relationship. It cannot exist alone. It cannot exist without its brand.
“Just do it” does not make sense, have meaning, or resonates power to someone who does not know what Nike does.
Taglines do not always have to “read-and-spell,” because they gain definition from the brand even as they help to define the brand.
If you saw a smile without a face, would it make sense to you? Hmmm?
Working Ideas next week: Think big!