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February 23, 2012

Cindy Penchina, President

Why and how it differentiates your company, products and services

Businesses who choose to have a tagline associated with their company, product or service have a significant advantage over their competitors. A good tagline makes a good first impression. A great tagline makes it easier for customers to understand what your business does and how it differentiates itself from the competition. Compelling and memorable taglines take it one step further and make an emotional connection with customers so they’ll think positively about why they should use your company’s products or services.

Purpose

Having a tagline allows your company to emphasize a benefit or one of its key points of differentiation at-a-glance. When a company name is not intuitive, customers will form their own opinions and you lose control of your brand image. A tagline allows you to help shape the perceptions of your company before customers begin to interact with you.

Types of Taglines

There are two main types of taglines. First, is the descriptive or functional tagline that gives insight into what the business is about and could include a key benefit of doing business with your company. This type of tagline works well for new businesses establishing who they are, businesses with an unfamiliar product or service, or for companies without an intuitive name.

The second is the emotional tagline that is crafted to create a tone or feeling about your business. This type of tagline is more often used when the brand is firmly established, but the landscape in which it operates is fiercely competitive. Frequently, there have been hybrids of these two types that both identify a key benefit and that pull at us emotionally, usually with a double meaning.

Taglines can be product-oriented, so that people remember them when they're buying a product or a service. Some examples of this are Glad's “Don't get mad, get Glad,” and Allstate letting you know you're in "good hands." 

Length

Taglines should be no longer than 10 words, but ideally are only 4-5 words. Keep it simple and memorable so that it is understandable and easy to remember. Keeping it short will be a challenge, but it must drill down to quickly reveal the company’s core message to be most effective. Nike’s “just do it” was short, but empowers and encourages its customers' athletic aspirations.

Content

Taglines should emphasize something essential about your business, and a differentiating factor is best. For example: Folgers used “Its uncanny” when it moved from a can to a plastic container. Taglines should connect with the brand itself, but can also connect with a marketing campaign. Staples began using “that was easy” with the inception of the “easy button.” Generally, positives are a plus and negatives are a turn-off. But exceptions appear to even this rule: Avis' "We Try Harder" tagline was effective because it turned one of the company's disadvantages (the fact Avis was not the market leader) into an advantage.

Be careful not to expect your tagline to do all the work for your company. It should not define every aspect of the business, but add dimension, personality or positioning to your company.

Benefits

The benefits of using a tagline are many:

  • It expresses your company’s unique market position
  • It can convey essential qualities of your brand personality
  • It can highlight a key benefit of doing business with your company
  • It is meaningful and relevant to your target audience

A tagline doesn't have to be memorable to everyone to be effective — just to those you want as customers.

Usage

Once you’ve established a tagline, use it repeatedly. Most often it should be positioned as a “lock up” with your logo either below your company logo or above it as an “eyebrow.” The font and styling of the tagline should work in synergy with the logo, and work within your brand standards.Use this “lock-up” on EVERY marketing piece, including advertising, your website, email signatures, etc.

Taglines, when created effectively, are an extension of your company’s brand. They create a sense of relationship with the product or company and can change perception in a customer’s mind, giving an old company a new personality and image.