Using Taglines to Build Stronger Brands - Part 3

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Posted Mar 16, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Learning from Real-World Brand Taglines

Taglines help to build stronger brands. Don't believe me? Then Part 3 of the Using Taglines to Build Stronger Brands series is a must-read for you. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of the series, follow the preceding links to learn what a tagline is, why you need one, and how to create one. In Part 3, you learn about the power of taglines from real-world examples that stand the test of time.

brand taglines

Great Brand Taglines Don't Die

The best brand taglines live long after the company behind them has rebranded. They add equity to the brands they represent and successfully position the brands against their competitors while driving sales. The best brand taglines have a few things in common, but most importantly, they follow the 4 S's of tagline development. They're short, succinct, specific, and simple.

Remember, taglines can be used for company brand identity, product line brand identity, and product or service brand identity. They are strategic elements of a brand that live with the brand for many years.

For example, for many years the Bounty brand tagline was "The quicker picker upper." That tagline is perfect. It can stand the test of time and communicates the brand promise as well as a specific differentiator in a simple and succinct phrase of just four words.

Great Brand Taglines Put Customers First

The best brand taglines don't hype what the company thinks is important. Instead, they communicate differentiators that are most important to consumers. When the National Pork Board wanted to draw attention to the fact that pork is a great alternative to chicken for health-conscious consumers looking for ways to avoid red meat, it could have created a tagline filled with self-serving statistics. Instead, it launched a clever tagline of just five words in 1986 that communicated its message better than statistics and rhetoric could -- "Pork. The other white meat."

Interestingly, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association launched its own tagline in the late 1980s -- "Beef. It's what's for dinner." It sounds very reactionary to the popular National Pork Board tagline. Which tagline do you think is better? In 2011, the National Pork Board changed its tagline to "Be inspired" with the hope of increasing pork consumption.

beef its whats for dinner

On the other hand, taglines like "The most trusted name in news," (CNN) or "Empowering the Internet generation" (Cisco Systems) don't really say anything that matters to consumers. Your tagline should be meaningful to consumers rather than self-serving.

Great Brand Taglines are Emotional

Many of the best brand taglines evoke consumer emotions. Emotional branding is extremely powerful, and when a brand can elicit emotions through its tagline, it's hit the jackpot! Nike did it with one of the best taglines of all time -- "Just do it." Three words communicate to people that the Nike brand enables them to accomplish any physical task they set out to do.

Great Brand Taglines are Very Focused

Brand taglines that don't try to do too much are always the most powerful. Focus on a single message -- a single differentiator from your competitors -- and your tagline will be more memorable and impactful. Wendy's did it with its "Where's the beef?" tagline that integrated perfectly into all of the brand's messages and experiences. Instead of saying, "Our burgers are bigger," Wendy's used a clever tagline that was more memorable, particularly with the introduction of entertaining television commercials that leveraged the tagline.

Great Brand Taglines are Believable

Sometimes brands launch taglines with messages that they want to be true, and some consumers will believe those messages. However, when there is more evidence to the contrary than in support of your message, your tagline needs to be replaced.

Fox News launched its "Fair and balanced" tagline and it was instantly attacked as untrue. Ford's "Quality is job one" tagline is another example of a message that consumers believed stretched the truth.

Reduce the chances that you'll make similar tagline mistakes by conducting consumer research to ensure your tagline is believable, focused, memorable, and speaks directly to consumers with a message that is meaningful to them and taps into their emotions. Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series to learn more about conducting brand tagline research.

If you missed earlier parts of the Using Taglines to Build Stronger Brands series, you can follow the links below to read them now:

Images: kristja,

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