Using Taglines to Build Stronger Brands - Part 2

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Posted Mar 15, 2012
Susan Gunelius

How to Create Brand Taglines

Creating brand taglines should happen as part of the brand identity development process -- not as an afterthought. That's because the tagline is an integral part of your brand and will live with your brand for many years to come. Don't think, "Our brand should have a tagline because every other brand has one." Instead think, "Our brand needs a tagline so we can help consumers understand our brand position and promise in every brand interaction and experience."

brand taglines

In Part 1 of the Using Taglines to Build Stronger Brands series, you learned what taglines are and why your brand needs a tagline. Now, it's time to learn how to create brand taglines that can effectively build your brand.

Before you consider creating a brand tagline, you need to put yourself in your customers' shoes. Their perceptions and needs are the most important factor in developing your brand, and they don't lose importance in the tagline creation process.

Sometimes those consumer perceptions of your brand might be negative. Look at those negative perceptions as opportunities to better position your brand and communicate its promise through a tagline. Consider Avis, the number two car rental brand behind Hertz, which turned negative consumer perceptions into a positive tagline -- "We try harder."

avis we try harder

Tagline Do's and Don'ts

Branding experts suggest keeping your tagline to seven words or less -- short, succinct, specific, and simple. By sticking to the 4 S's of tagline development, your tagline will be more memorable and more effective. Don't sacrifice the usefulness of your tagline's message for humor or cleverness. A play on words can be a great element of a tagline if that clever phrase communicates the brand position and promise, but it shouldn't be the most important element.

A good brand tagline should:

  • Communicate the brand promise.
  • Communicate the brand position (a key differentiator).
  • Follow the 4 S's -- short, succinct, specific, and simple.
  • Be truthful and believable.
  • Be memorable.
  • Stand the test of time.

At the same time a good brand tagline should not:

  • Be self-serving (communicating what management thinks is important rather than what consumers need).
  • Be trite or filled with jargon and corporate rhetoric.
  • Offer no additional information beyond what consumers expect from the brand.

In other words, if your brand tagline is all about you or filled with useless messages that say nothing other than restate the obvious, then you need to go back to the drawing board. For example, a florist using a tagline that says, "Fresh Flowers, Always," would be met with customer reactions such as, "I certainly hope the flowers are fresh all the time!" Your tagline should state more than the obvious.

Creating Your Brand Tagline

As you define your brand promise and position, you should also develop your brand tagline. Begin by identifying your niche and brainstorming words used to describe your brand. Ideally, you'd conduct some consumer brand research at this point in the tagline development process, which is discussed in Part 4 of this series.Come up with a long list of words and phrases that describe your brand promise, brand position, brand solution, competitors, marketplace, and consumers. Don't forget to include negative words and phrases, too (whether they're accurate or not).

Next, review your list and determine what makes your brand valuable in consumers' minds. Come up with as many sample taglines as you can, making sure each tagline communicates a single, succinct, specific, and simple message. Use this list to rework your taglines and narrow the list down to approximately five of the best options.At this point, you should research consumers to learn how they feel about your taglines. Using the data you gather, you can tweak your taglines again and develop the final tagline to define your brand for years to come.

Throughout the process, solicit feedback from your employees and unbiased colleagues, peers, and so on. It's hard to detach yourself from your brand and look at it from consumers' perspectives. Remember, a good tagline isn't self-serving -- consumers first, marketing second!

Stay tuned to the next part of the Using Taglines to Build Stronger Brands series where you'll learn from real-world tagline examples. In the meantime, if you missed Part 1: What Are Taglines and Why Does Your Brand Need One? follow the preceding link to read it now.

Images: kristja, Avis

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