Thinking too much about a tagline?

Do you really need a tagline? Think about it.

A tagline can add clarity and value to a brand, especially if its identity is misunderstood, but it is certainly not an essential component of a brand. In fact, lots of companies couldn't be bothered, and for good reason!

What is a tagline anyway?

Not to be confused with a slogan, a tagline is a short message that is attached to a logo. It's usually developed as a simple phrase to help convey a company's value, position or sales market. Its goal is to add clarity to an abstract logo symbol identity or ambiguous brand name.

Taglines can be fun and witty, usually, a play on words - a catchy phrase will be memorable and may even spark positive emotions. But is a tagline actually a good idea?

There are probably more reasons for not having one, and that all depends on the characteristics of a company's identity.

Do you really need a tagline?

If you are having difficulty deciding whether a tagline is right for your company ask yourself:

  • Will a tagline add value?
  • Why do I want a tagline?

Why wouldn't you want a tagline?

  • If it doesn't add clarify your company name or product offering
  • if you are doing it because everyone else has one
  • If it is going to be a chore that will waste time, drain the brain
  • If there are lots of other more important company details to take care of first

How long will your tagline live?

A company's tagline rarely changes, so it’s critical to be forward thinking during development. Will it encapsulate existing and future product applications and markets? Or will it represent a futile effort and be abandoned after a short lifespan.

A few tagline examples:

  • A laser company that positions itself as being a producer of quality laser products might use a tagline such as "bringing quality to light".
  • A medical device manufacturing company that develops quality long-lasting products may use a tagline such as "medical applications, built for life".

Is a slogan the same as a tagline?

A slogan is a short, striking and memorable phrase used in advertising and advertising campaigns to reinforce a selling point. Slogans are created to help build awareness and interest and by nature tend to have a relatively short lifespan. Although a slogan is not necessarily considered a part of an identity, it should be in line with the brand messaging. In some cases, a strong, memorable slogan can take on a second life as an apparent tagline, whether a company wants it or not. And some slogans that work are often adopted as taglines.

A few slogan examples:

  • Apple - "Think Different" (slogan for an advertising campaign, but wrongly identified as a tagline by general public)
  • Microsoft - "Be what’s next”, "Where do you want to go today?" (slogans)

Whether you are developing a tagline, a slogan or both, keep in mind, your goal is to elicit a positive emotional response and express the fundamental qualities of your company, products or services.

Tips for taglines and slogans:

  • Align it with company's position
  • Ensure it adds value and clarify
  • Speak to the market or application
  • Make it smart and fun - a play on words is easy to remember
  • Will the idea encapsulate where your company and products will be in the future?
  • Keep it simple
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