November 2016: What Makes a Good Tagline?

Taglines – these snappy catchphrases lurk in close proximity to logos, aiming to convey something compelling about the essence of the brand that will nudge you over the edge into purchase. They’re everywhere – a staple in the branding larder.  But how do you feel about them?

My personal view is that they frequently just add visual clutter to branded communications, and detract from the often beautiful graphic designs of many modern logos. So if a tagline must be there, it had better say something meaningful.  Something like “A diamond is forever”, “There is no substitute”, or my personal, highly nostalgic favourite, “beanz meanz Heinz”.  What irks me are ones that might seem like pithy wisdom to the Clerkenwell cognoscenti after a robust lunch, but are gibberish to the rest of us.  I’m afraid I rank Sky’s “Believe in Better” and Adidas’ “Impossible is nothing” amongst these – possibly also “Sense & Simplicity” from Phillips (although I’ve read it did rather well for them).

No matter. We’ve just communicated key findings to one of our longstanding clients on which one of several potential taglines they should move forward with (I love it when results are that clear!).  As part of the number crunching we ran Kruskals Relative Influence analysis.  We found the three key attributes that determined reactions to our taglines were (1) being believable, (2) feeling relevant to the person, and (3) being inspiring.  So keep that in mind if you are in the process of coming up with a new tagline for your brand.

To finish – and to show that this blog is not just all about me – here are some fave/unfave taglines from the BF team.

We like…

  • Nike ‘Just do it’ – It’s short, snappy and you get the point instantly. It also implies a state of mind, rather than just a sporting brand.
  • Audi ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ – Even though most people don’t understand what this slogan means, that it is still successful at communicating the intended brand message, and has become inseparable from the Audi brand.
  • Toyota ‘The Car in Front is a Toyota’ – A clever play on words, the idea that you are following (i.e. driving behind) the industry leader.
  • BMW ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ – Combines aspiration with engineering excellence.
  • Pirelli ‘Gripping Stuff’ – When you consider this is such a low involvement category, how they have managed to communicate the main functional characteristic of the product is very smart.
  • Guinness ‘Good Things Come to Those Who Wait’ – Perfectly describes the experience of watching a pint of Guinness settle, creates anticipation.
  • Gillette ‘The Best a Man Can Get’ – Similar to Toyota and BMW, positions itself as the ultimate…..with the added benefit of rhyming to make it memorable.
  • Ronseal ‘It Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin’ – It’s fence paint, what more do you need to say?
  • Always ‘#Like a girl’ – Developing the core message of confidence (“won’t let you down”) into emotional territory to appeal to younger women and challenges the use of this damaging expression, redefining it in a new, inspiring way.

We’d rather not…

  • Ford ‘Quality is Job One’ – huh?
  • Nissan ‘Innovation that Excites’ – Advertising executives thinking how can we get the words ‘innovation’ and ‘excitement’ into our 3 word tagline?
  • Audi ‘Truth in Engineering’ – What does it even mean? Are other cars have been engineered falsely? Maybe since the emissions scandal this jars slightly!