Creating a tagline that works

Written by CoreBrand on .

The few, the proud. The ultimate driving machine. The relentless pursuit of perfection. Just do it.

Great taglines deliver a simple, crisp communication of your value proposition. Great taglines don’t just happen. Capturing the essence of a brand in a handful of words requires a firm understanding of who you are (The Marines), what you do (BMW), how you do it (Lexus), and why (Nike). Only then can you turn your attention to the creative expression.

At its best, the tagline is a business asset reflecting clear strategic objectives. Here are five tips for creating a short, memorable phrase that communicates who you are OR what you do OR what makes you different.

1. Begin with a brand platform
Creating a tagline without a strategic foundation runs the risk of generating everything from internal dissent to external confusion. Know what you are trying to say before you look for memorable and meaningful ways to say it. The brand platform will serve as both guide and filter to what you say and to the tone you use in expressing it. Great taglines ring true — and the platform will clarify exactly what this means.

2. Don’t forget the context
Your name, your logo and your tagline are three pieces to a puzzle. Each piece contributes to the bigger picture — and each should rely on the others to carry some of the weight. A highly descriptive name can rely on a tagline to communicate your unique approach. A more evocative or fanciful name may need to be grounded by a more descriptive line. Strong brands find the right balance across these assets.

3. Focus
Five words or less. Maybe six or seven. You can't say it all. Don’t try.

4. Avoid buzzwords
A strong tagline will endure beyond today to capture the aspirations of tomorrow. If everyone else is saying it, you can be sure it will feel trite before long — and it doesn’t belong in your tagline.

5. Find the hook
The trickiest part: the wordplay. Every tagline need not be clever. Many try too hard. Some work perfectly fine with a simple and straightforward approach. Yet the right balance is where the magic happens. A subtle double meaning or shift in interpretation can turn an everyday phrase into a memorable line. Explore metaphors, maybe punctuation, maybe even bad syntax. Don't make your customers laugh — but if your tagline can work hard enough to open their eyes to what makes you special, it has more than done its job.


#6 Atif 2014-01-16 06:12
The Advertising Means Exploration
#5 Jonathan Paisner 2013-02-07 15:14
Here's that link to Tagline Guru:
#4 Jonathan Paisner 2013-02-07 15:07
The examples at the top of the article reflect many of these points. But what might be more interesting is an example that falls short. Alcide's comment about Sony is right on the mark. Sony seems to have jumped right to the clever line - and overlooked the strategic foundation. The tagline tries too hard to tie all of Sony's disparate elements together under an aspirational theme - and the result feels irrelevant or "meaningless."

A site called Tagline Guru offers a great collection of taglines and slogans. Hold that list against these 5 simple tips and the ones that work best will most certainly stand out.
#3 Farbod Fakhreddin 2013-02-07 14:32
Thanks so much for your really informative hints.They can be very helpful;also,if you add more practical examples and elaboration,the y might be much better.
#2 Sarah Hayden 2013-02-06 14:52
Simple, clear advice. Thank you!
#1 alcide 2013-02-05 21:24
I am always surprised by the meaningless of some companies tagline like Sony. Make. Believe.
Is it because these companies lack of clarity in their corporate strategy?

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