How to write a tagline for a brand

We all know the most popular brands' taglines. That's why maybe it would be worth it to come up with one for your brand. Because, if you didn't notice, we used the word know. We haven't merely heard or read those catchy phrases that accompany a brand's name. We know them. It's a significant distinction that proves the communicative (and advertising) power of a handful of words.

A tagline works as an extension of your logo, giving you more space to define your business better, clarify your mission, and explain your purpose. It may be the shortest possible statement of what your brand is all about or an empowering message. Most of all, it is - or rather, it should be - catchy, memorable. Ideally, it should also convince the audience to choose you over the others. Repeatedly.

However, to return to that first phrase of ours, but shift the emphasis, we all know the most popular brands' taglines. The most original, catchy, well-thought, or heavily-promoted ones. For, as we'll see, not all taglines are created equal, and it's not easy to come up with a great one.

Thankfully, we've compiled everything you need to write an awesome tagline for your brand in this mini-guide. That is if you need one, and that's precisely where we'll begin.

Do You Need a Tagline?

To check if you need a tagline, you can tap into your empathy. Let's say you offer someone a card with your brand's ID. Now, get in their shoes six months later, when they find that card, with no recollection of your meeting. Can they tell what your brand's about by looking at your card?

Does your logo includes a descriptive design, like a cup of java for a business named "Cup Of Joe" or a stylized mouse for a hypothetical "Computer Guru?" Then, a descriptive tagline could feel redundant, getting in the way. That's when you should use an inspiring message instead, or a small phrase that describes your ideals and goals. Alternatively, you could skip using a tagline altogether.

When your brand's name and logo are somewhat vague and don't communicate what you do, a descriptive tagline can help. Are you freelancing? You might not have realized that a) you're "your brand," and b) you need a tagline more than an established mega-corporation does. Unlike Tesla, you need to explain to your audience what you do. If your work is all about creating sites, a simple "Web Designer & Developer" will do. Someone in need of an e-shop would know you can offer them precisely what they need.

Tagline vs. Slogan

A tagline encapsulates everything your brand is about and is supposed to stand the test of time. It's a phrase (or two) you'll rarely - if ever - change. It will be as integral to your brand's identity as its name and logo.

In contrast, a slogan is by nature ephemeral. You might end up using the same one for years or got through multiple in months for various advertising campaigns. Your brand would have a tagline covering all its services, actions, and products as an umbrella, but each of those could have a unique slogan.

Types Of Taglines

There are many ways to categorize taglines into groups, depending on their structure, message, or intended results. We've already talked about the simplest type of tagline, which directly describes what you do. eBay follows this approach by using "Buy it. Sell it. Love it." and "The World's Online Market Place." Both clearly explain what eBay's all about.

What's better than imposing yourself on your customers is presenting what you do as their best choice while shifting the actionable part to them. Also known as imperative taglines, those messages feel as if you're enabling your audience to take action on something. Even if this "something" is uploading a video of their cat on their shoulders to your streaming service because you told them "Broadcast Yourself," as YouTube does.

Alternatively, you can present your products and services as empowering, explicitly created to improve life for a particular group of people. L'Oreal's smart tagline manages to both praise the brand's audience and present its products as better than the alternatives: "Because You're Worth It."

If you're confident of your brand's (potential) dominance over your competition, don't be afraid to state so with what's known as a superlative tagline. Many might scoff regarding it as a lousy soda, but for the millions that choose it, Budweiser is "The King of Beers."

We could go on by coming up with new types of taglines, but the truth is that there's no "group" or "type" that's better than the rest. Going for one over the other, though, may make more sense for your brand. Maybe skip the "edgy" language, better for the youngsters, if you're selling walking sticks.

Good vs. Great Taglines

A simple tagline like "web designer extraordinaire" is good for explaining what you do. However, a genuinely great tagline can be both explanatory and inspiring. Acer's "Empowering Technology" can be interpreted in multiple ways. Is Acer empowering the technological world? Is it offering technology that will empower you? Is Acer the empowering technology, compared to alternatives?

There's no reason to answer those questions, for they're simply facets of the same great tagline. Still, it's not the message itself that makes this a fantastic tagline.

Acer's message conveys both the company's purpose and the usefulness of their products. Simultaneously, it states that, unlike other brands, Acer's offerings can improve your life.

Somehow, it also manages to imply a promise that thanks to Acer's tech, you'll be able to achieve greater things or, at the very least, become more productive. As a bonus, it's a positive message in a world that insists on seeing the glass as half-empty.

Most of all, it's short and memorable, managing to distill all those messages in two easy-to-remember words. Strangely, that's the secret to crafting a fantastic tagline for your brand.

How To Write A Fantastic Tagline

Before trying to come up with a good tagline for your brand, you'll have to use empathy once more and try to see your brand from your audience's perspective.

If you're dealing with a global audience, it would be better if you avoided wordplay and double-meanings that could get lost in translation on your foreign customers.

A simple "Full Stack Developer" under your name for your one-person business is direct and drives the point home. Even if you believe you're fun at parties, we'd suggest you avoid using "The Best WebDev On The Planet" instead. It might show your sense of humor, but humility looks more professional. Note that we're not stating that you shouldn't use humor, for you should. It can make a tagline more memorable, like Du Pont's "The Miracles Of Science."

However, you should double-check you don't sound out of touch, offensive, insulting, or, to be blunt, incompetent, and even stupid. Ask your close friends and trusted contacts their honest opinion to ensure your brand won't end up a meme. Would you trust Uzbekistan Airways with your life after seeing a poster of one of their planes disappearing in the clouds with "Good Luck" slapped on top?

It's better to keep your tagline's message clear, direct, and concise until you're established. Writing "I design things" might sound ambivalently cool until someone asks, "like what?" It's then you realize a graphic artist could use this tagline, but also an electronics guru or an architect. Keep it simple and straightforward. You can go vague and abstract, like Nike's famous "Just Do It," when your brand's a behemoth in its field, and everyone knows about it.

If you can't come up with a tagline, believe those you thought are sub-par, or would prefer a more systematic approach to crafting one, try the following steps.

Establish Your Pillars

Begin by removing from the equation what's already in your name and logo. You can expand on what's already there, but you should avoid repeating the same message.

Then, write down your brand's pillars. Those are the very core of your brand with which you want people to associate it. They can be single words that evoke feeling, like "trust" or "happiness."

Explain And Justify

Proceed by brainstorming terms and phrases that relate to those pillars. If you want to present your brand as trustworthy, write down all the "whys."

Do the same about the benefits your products offer to your potential customers. Explain why they should prefer them over something else.

Compile Your Message

Assemble everything you've noted into proper sentences about your brand. Compile them into one or two paragraphs. Then, start re-arranging particular words and phrases into a coherent but, for now, expanded version of your final message. You could end up with something like the following:

"We might be a relatively new company, but we believe that the ground-breaking tech in our Macintosh computer will finally prove that Graphic User Interfaces are the future. Yes, our products are incompatible with other established brands, but that's because we don't blindly follow others' footsteps. We believe there's a different, better way to do things. It might cost you a bit extra, but that's because we're innovative and create only premium products for demanding individuals."

That's not a tagline, but we're getting there.

Distill your message

Acer's tagline manages to compress more than a single message into two words. You can use such examples as inspiration in your next step, shortening your message. Begin by compressing everything you already have and eliminating anything that could be considered fluff. Using our previous example, you could end up with something like:

"Our new Macintosh computer's ground-breaking Graphic User Interface is the future. We offer every demanding individual a different, better way to do things, through such innovative, premium products."

Although you still don't have a tagline, that was the final step. The rest of the process is more iteration and elimination until you've compressed everything as much as possible while only keeping what's essential. Your final message could be two words, maybe not as descriptive as the phrases above, but undoubtedly more memorable while still establishing your identity:

"Think Different"

Don't Just Do It

That's everything you need to write an impressionable tagline for your brand. If inspiration doesn't help, and you can't invest the time to distill your message into a tagline for your brand, there's a shortcut you can take. However, the results can be questionable and somewhat generic: you can use a tagline/slogan generator.

Published on 15 Jan 2021
Author: Odysseas Kourafalos